Review Summary: Effectively bridging the gap between Blues, Jazz, and Rock 'n' Roll, Stevie's final studio album brings it all home.Stevie Ray Vaughan
was undeniably one of the greatest guitarists ever to live. Along with Jimi Hendrix, he will forever be remembered as one of the most innovative blues players to grace both the electric and acoustic guitar. Unfortunately, Stevie released only four studio albums in his short musical career: Texas Flood
, Couldn't Stand the Weather
, Soul to Soul
, and In Step
is a landmark in blues as well as blues guitar playing. Stevie's tasteful fusion of jazz, blues and rock 'n' roll reach a climax on this album that surpasses all of his previous releases.
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble are:
Stevie Ray Vaughan - guitars and vocals
Tommy Shannon - bass
Chris Layton - drums
Reese Wynans - piano and keyboards
Stevie and co.'s playing are flawless throughout. Reese's keyboard and piano playing add a jazzy feel to most of the songs, and one that was not present in Stevie's previous work. A prime example of this is Wynan's Riviera Paradise solo. Reese's contributions are noticeable on Crossfire
, among others. I can't say there's a single song on that could have been better. Every song is a testament to Stevie's masterful fretwork and rare blues virtuosity. My personal favorite song is the instrumental Riviera Paradise
, which displays Stevie's developing knack for jazzier playing, as well as his increcible technique which was at its peak. Riviera Paradise
is similar to Lenny
from Texas Flood
as far as the amount of emotion Stevie poured into it.
As far as the band's performance as a whole, the drums are always solid and Chris doesn't lay back at all on this album. Bassist Tommy also does great job establishing the signature Double Trouble groove underneath Stevie. Vocally Stevie doesn't disappoint as usual, and much like Jimi Hendrix his vocals aren't meant to be the focal point of the music but the emotion that is put into them makes them unforgettable.
The first album I ever heard from Stevie Ray Vaughan was his debut,Texas Flood
. So when I finally got In Step
I had my doubts as to whether or not the band could live up to that album. In Step
put those doubts to rest. Although Texas Flood
is tremendously in every aspect, In Step
lives up to every expectation. However, a big part of what makes In Step
stand apart from SRV's previous albums is that it was released after Stevie got out of rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. An observing listener will notice that Texas Flood
and Couldn't Stand the Weather
are much more raw and faster paced than In Step
. This album is definitely SRV's most slow, laid back, and overall most mature effort, and it seems to me that he had developed and honed his songwriting skills to create what would be come some of the most complex music he ever released.
One song that deals with Stevie's troubled past is Tightrope
, a mainstay in his live performances after the album's release. It's lyrics are some of Stevie's best. The solo is an album highlight, and Reese adds a distinct and recognizable keyboard background riff which makes the song one of Stevie's most memorable studio recordings.
Afraid of my own shadow in the face of grace
Heart full of darkness spotlight on my face
There was love all around me but I was lookin' for revenge
Thank God it never found me would have been the end
Legendary guitar playing, raw vocals, amazing instrumentation, and Reese Wynans proves himself as a perfect complement to the band. The only thing missing is the full blown speed and aggression that Stevie previously employed, however this was clearly not the aim of one fully realized Stevie Ray Vaughan.