Classic Track: Stevie Ray Vaughan, “Pride and Joy”

Jan 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Blair Jackson


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Vaughan used a few different Fender Strats on the album—including a ’59 and a ’63—played through two Fender Vibraverbs (with 15-inch Altec Lansing speakers) and a Dumble amp (with a 4x12 cabinet with Electro-Voice speakers). Mullen had first encountered one of Alexander “Howard” Dumble’s amps during the Christopher Cross sessions he’d been working on: “I wanted something that was like a Fender Twin but with more beef to it, and I stumbled across one at the warehouse studio in Burbank where we were working,” he says. Then, coincidentally, he found the same Dumble at Jackson Browne’s place, “and Stevie totally fell in love with it.” So much so that he later bought “six or seven” of them and it became an integral part of his sound. Mullen miked the Dumble and the two Vibraverbs with single Shure SM57s placed three or four inches off the cone. “I tended to like a close-mic situation,” he says. “There wasn’t anything in the way of room mics, but the warehouse was pretty live, so that came through all the mics.”

Tommy Shannon played a ’63 Fender Jazz bass through a Peavey CS-800 amp (“which I really didn’t like much,” he says today) that was miked with a single 57 and also captured direct. Mics used by Mullen on drummer Chris Layton’s kit included “a 57 or a Beyer 201 on the snare, 57s on the tom-toms, and the kick was probably a Sennheiser 421, although I was also fond of this mic Beyer made called the Soundstar, which was like a copy of a 421 in a plastic shell. It was the funkiest mic you’ve ever seen, but it was a great kick drum mic.”

The songs were cut to a 2-inch Studer 24-track, but Mullen says he tried to keep it to under 16 tracks so it would be more compatible with the MCI 16-track he had in his Austin studio, where the vocals were recorded shortly after the L.A. sessions. Mullen describes his own Riverside Studio as “a little cubby hole, about a tenth the size of Jackson Browne’s studio—a real down-and-dirty place; a carpeted room with regular walls. We recorded the vocals pretty much the same way we did the live tracks—we picked the best take of each song and then I had Stevie come in and sing it twice and we’d do a quick comp on the best vocal. I think the mic I used on him was probably an AKG 414.”

The tapes then found their way to legendary New York producer John Hammond, whose decades-long resumé at Columbia Records included “discovering” or giving initial wide exposure to the likes of Benny Goodman, Charlie Christian, Billie Holiday, Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Johnson, Pete Seeger, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen and so many others. A true blues aficionado, Hammond flipped over Vaughan and signed him to Columbia affiliate Epic Records. He wanted the tapes to be mixed further, however, and assigned the job to noted New York engineer Lincoln Clapp, who had worked with Hammond in the past.

Clapp mixed the album (and also recut one lead vocal for the record) at Media Sound in Manhattan “on a beautiful Neve 8088,” he says. “John Hammond had an office in the same building that Media was in and we mixed it in just a couple of days. Since it had all been recorded very similarly song to song, and it already sounded pretty good, the mixes went quickly.” He used a minimum of effects, using the Neve’s pre’s and EQ, but adding EMT plate reverb for ambience.

“One thing I did that was a bit unusual,” he says, “is I played the [recorded] drums out into Media Sound Studio A, which used to be a church and had great acoustics, and I recorded the ambience of the room using a couple of Crown PZM microphones taped to the control room glass. I added a bit of that judiciously and it gave the drums a little more punch.

“[Hammond] liked to come in and sit in front of the console on this church pew and read his newspaper while we mixed. It was just the band and Mr. Hammond and me.”

The finished album, Texas Flood, was released in June 1983 and was an immediate sensation. “Pride and Joy” was a hit on FM rock radio, as was the title song. The band’s fortunes changed overnight. As Shannon notes, “There was a club we used to play in California where we’d usually get about 40 or 50 people a night, and after Texas Flood there was a line all the way around the block.”

Though Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble never became a top-tier act commercially, they were one of the most respected acts on the touring circuit, with a devoted following that grew steadily until Stevie Ray’s tragic death in a helicopter crash following a concert on August 27, 1990. More than 5 million SRV albums were sold in the year after his death, and the catalog continues to attract new fans to his unique and compelling blues-rock style.

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