Quite frankly,one of the most extraordinary American blues guitarists to ever play a note, Stevie Ray Vaughan was a gifted performer who left this world far too soon. Stevie Ray Vaughan was born in 1954 and grew up in the Dallas, Texas area, later moving to Austin, Texas. By the time he reached his mid- teens, Stevie Ray Vaughan was immersed in American blues music. Because of his incredible talent, Stevie Ray Vaughan was mentored, influenced and accepted by such legendary blues performers as Johnny Winter, Freddie”The Texas Cannonball” King and Albert King at a young age.
After playing in numerous Texas bands through the 1970’s, Stevie Ray teamed up with bass player Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton in 1981. This impeccable rythym section, named “Double Trouble”, provided a strong foundation for Stevie Ray’s virtuoistic guitar playing and rough- edged vocals. Performing as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, they were by far, one of the most popular and influential American blues bands of the 1980’s. They released four albums together, including their landmark 1983 debut album”Texas Flood”. Stevie Ray and his brother Jimmie, guitarist for the Fabulous Thunderbirds, also recorded ans released an excellent album titled ” Family Style”.
With his trademark bolero hat and guitar-slinger / cowboy sensibility, Stevie Ray had a sound and style of guitar playing that was so unique, it was recognizable after hearing only a few notes. Among many music afficianados, Stevie Ray Vaughan is frequently compared with Jimi Hendrix, concerning talent, style and impact. Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin, USA, in 1990. He will never be forgotten.
In determining the top ten songs by Stevie Ray Vaughan, much listening and re- listening was required, because everything he recorded, was so good.
A) Cold Shot..(3:57)..from the “Couldn’t Stand The Weather” album..1984
Stevie Ray’s guitar sounds like a high- pressure sound gun loading and shooting in this up-tempo blues rocker. Even though he’s been wronged in the song, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble do everything right, sounding incredibly in- sync with each other. This song displays just how unique an artist stevie Ray was.
B) Good Texan..(4:22)..from the “Family Style” album (with brother Jimmie Vaughan)..1990
Propelled by a big, bouncy bass line and some ‘sneaky- pete’ guitar, this joyous, boastful tune is the musical equivalent of a 1969 Chevy Malibu SS with a 396 c.i. motor. Recorded with his brother Jimmie, of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, this is Stevie Ray at the top of his form. The outstanding “Family Style” album is reputed to be his last recording.
C) Hard To Be..(4:41)..from the “Family Style” album
A fast- driving, full of life song, with a very catchy, instrumental ‘hook’. Reminiscent of the great Sir Douglas Quintet. This song is also used as background music during some Major League Baseball games. It’s hard not to start shakking, shimmying, or dancing, when this song is playing.
D) Long Way From Home..(3:15)..from the “Family Style” album
If listened to closely, one can almost pick up 1960’s STAX Records and 1970’s funk in this heartfelt expression of world- weary loneliness. The rythym section is exceptionally tight and crisp on this song.
E) Look At Little Sister..(3:07)..from the “Soul to Soul” album
One of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s most happy, high- powered rock and roll songs. Rock and roll fueled by dynamite and rocket fuel, that is. This song has received extensive commercial rock radio airplay. With its refrain of “Hey,hey,hey,hey”, the song will stay with a listener for a while.
F) Telephone Song..(3:28)..from the “Family Style” album
One can almost visualize Stevie Ray Vaughan in a seedy hotel room, trying to reach his woman on the telephone. A snappy, tight, guitar delivery provides the aural setting for a mood of Stevie’s, that hints of potential action at any second. It’s easy to understand why this is one of the top ten songs by Stevie Ray Vaughan.
G) Texas Flood..(5:21)..from the “Texas Flood” album..(1983
This is a clean, yet muddy, simmering, yet menacing barrage of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s extraordinary guitar talents. Elegantly understated, but more powerful than a locomotive, this incredible slow blues song fairly stings and bites.
H) The House Is Rockin’..(2:24)..from the “In Step” album..1989
A very fast- tempo, bawdy declaration of a man who is intent on being with his woman, and is proud of it. Upon listening, this song seems to celebrate all things’ partying’. Ironically, this was Stevie Ray Vaughan’s first and last album that he made after getting sober. Stevie Ray died in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin, USA, in 1990, not long after this album was released.
I) Tin Pan Alley..(9:10)..from the “Couldn’t Stand The Weather” album..(1984)
A grizzled, down and dirty, “meet me in the gutter” slow blues song. Tin Pan Alley is one of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s longest songs, clocking in at over nine minutes. The guitar work in this song builds to crescendos of unmitigated brilliance. The vocals are very heartfelt. This song is like being outside in the rain, but loving it.
J) Willie The Wimp..(4:37)..from the “Live / Alive” album..1986
Not to be confused with the classic Frank Zappa song “Willie The Pimp”, Willie The Wimp celebrates the life and death of a colorful, Chicago character. This song has a tough, urban feel, mixed with an outlaw motorcycle club sensibility. One of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s more colorful songs, with lyrics stating; “He been wishin’ for wings, no way he was walkin’….Talkin’ ’bout Willie the Wimp and his Cadillac coffin”.