Contact Us

26 Years Ago: Stevie Ray Vaughan Gets Back ‘In Step’

Epic

Back in the ’80s, four years was an eternity for working musicians to spend between studio albums. But that was how long Stevie Ray Vaughan fans had to wait between 1985’s Soul to Soul, and its successor, In Step, which arrived in stores on June 6, 1989.

One only had to decipher the new LP’s title to figure out just what had held him up since the 1986 release of his Live Alive collection. In Step, with its reference to 12-step recovery programs, candidly addressed Stevie Ray’s recent struggles to conquer addiction.

Some of these, including the Mainstream Rock No. 1 hit “Crossfire,” its compelling baby brother “Tightrope” and “Wall of Denial,” were built around common recovery slogans. Thankfully, Vaughan’s brilliant guitar playing prevents those songs from sounding forced or preachy.

Maybe that’s why some of In Step’s very best moments — the ones where he seemed to be at his least guarded and self-conscious — arrived when he was covering material by some of the blues’ elder statesmen, including a spontaneous “Let Me Love You” (Willie Dixon), a threatening “Leave My Girl Alone” (Buddy Guy), and wonderfully flirtatious “Love Me Darlin’” (Howlin’ Wolf).

Luckily, Stevie’s songwriting partner, Doyle Bramhall (also a longtime associate of big brother Jimmy Vaughan), was once again on hand to assist with a few rollicking numbers, including urgent album opener “The House is Rockin’” and a better-than-its-name-suggest blues-rocker in “Scratch-N-Sniff.”

And, in the album’s closing, laid-back, nine-minute instrumental meditation, “Riviera Paradise,” Stevie Ray shut his trap and simply let his magic fingers (with honorable mention given to Reese Wynans’ tasteful piano playing) to paint mental images of a dreamy seaside landscape like only he could.

In Step also triumphs through the consistently awe-inspiring instrumental interplay between Vaughan and Double Trouble (completed by bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton), which kept the musical fireworks coming. But it’s the sense of not-quite-finished business – the feeling that a substance-free SRV would truly take the blues to new heights with his career’s next move – that rendered the singer and guitarist’s tragic death in 1990 even more difficult to accept.

See Stevie Ray Vaughan and Other Rockers in the Top 100 Albums of the ’80s

Criminally Underrated Rock Albums

Next: 25 Years Ago: Stevie Ray Vaughan Begins Final Tour

Best of 103.7 The Hawk

Recommended For You

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://kmhk.com using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for Rockaholics quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive Rockaholics contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.