Album review: The Vaughan Brothers, Family Style (1990)


By Steve Newton

If any solace at all can be found in the wake of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s tragic helicopter-crash death, it lies in the fact that, before he passed on, Stevie got to do something he’s always wanted to do—make an album with his older brother Jimmie. The result, the Nile Rodgers-produced Family Style, is further evidence of just how much the younger Vaughan’s music will be missed. It should also draw some much-deserved attention to the talents of the highly under-rated Jimmie.

“Roll it and I’ll just feel somethin’,” instructs an unidentified voice at the beginning of the album’s first track, the rollicking “Hard to Be”, and that pretty well sums up the aura of the entire record. Whether it’s on flat-out boogie tracks like “White Boots”, “Green Onions”-type shuffles like “Hillbillies from Outerspace”, the free-form jazz/funk of “Baboom/Mama Said”, or the “Texas Flood”-like slow blues of “Brothers”, the overall effect is that the Vaughans just flipped the tape machine on and—in the company of some outstanding accompanists—had themselves a natural gas.

A testament to the glory of real music played by real people, Family Style rates up there with any of Stevie Ray’s Double Trouble albums. He couldn’t have left us a sweeter goodbye.


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