Contact Us

25 Years Ago: Stevie Ray Vaughan Releases ‘In Step’


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.

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

Recommended For You

Around the Web

Best of Ultimate Classic Rock

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and 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?

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 using your original account information.

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

(Forgot your password?)

Register on Ultimate Classic Rock quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a member? Sign up here

Register on Ultimate Classic Rock quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!