Featured Album – Family Style – The Vaughan Brothers

NOTE: I’m working on a Stevie Ray Vaughan series but in the meantime ….

Brothers Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughn had grown up in Dallas, Texas and developed their blues-playing chops in Austin, 200 miles south. Both went on to fame, Jimmie as a member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Stevie as a blues/rock superstar.

But even though their careers went in different directions, they also stayed in touch and their bands played together over the years.

But by 1990 they realized a dream they’d been putting off for a number of years which was doing an album together. Clearing their schedules, they got uber-producer Nile Rodgers to produce it. Rodgers – who produced Madonna, Duran Duran, and Diana Ross – may seem like an odd choice.

But he had co-produced David Bowie’s Let’s Dance which helped put SRV on the map. And the brothers just wanted to shake it up and do something different. (Old friend Billy Gibbons was on the shortlist to produce but his management nixed the idea.)

Not wanting to use the same players they’d always been using, Rodgers brought in bassman Al Berry and drummer Larry Aberman. (Doyle Bramhall played drums on it as well.)

First up, the album kick-off track, a taut rocker, “Hard to Be.” Roll ’em and I’ll just .. feel somethin’:

Spotify link

Jimmie Vaughan: “We didn’t have anything to compare this project to. We were a ‘new artist’ The Vaughan Brothers was something new. There were a lot of times where I was thinking of something to do and Stevie would already be doing it. I guess it comes from having the same blood, growing up together and having a lot of the same influences.”

Here’s a tasty instrumental groove called “Hillbillies from Outer Space.” With some juicy organ by a guy named Richard Hilton, this has got a bit of “Green Onions” flavor. You could cruise down the street in your convertible Caddy to this:

Spotify link

I’m digging this you’re (I hope) saying. But it’s nice and laid back. Where’s some of that trademark SRV fire? Check out “Long Way From Home:”

Spotify link

If there’s any criticism of this album, it’s that it’s not as hard-hitting as Stevie’s albums or quite as bluesy as Jimmie’s work with Thunderbirds. But so what? You want those albums, go buy ’em. As Jimmie said, this one’s a different beast. This one comes out of SRV’s several years of sobriety and the affection these guys have for each other.

Sadly, this would be the last album Stevie would record. He was killed in a helicopter accident in August of 1990 and this album was released in September of that year. The album peaked at number seven on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

 

18 thoughts on “Featured Album – Family Style – The Vaughan Brothers

  1. This is the kind of common ground that brought us together Doc (Kinda romantic don’t ya think?). Anyways I really dig this record. They had fun and it made the listener (CB) have fun. So many good cuts Tick Tock, Mama Said, Brothers … really good record.
    (Someone close to me just sent SRV’s talk about getting straight. Talk about timely with your piece)

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    1. With the exception of ‘Hard to Be,’ I hadn’t listened to this album in quite some time so I enjoyed dipping back into it. My only problem with ‘Brothers’ is that woman saying ‘That’s your brother.’ Kinda dopey. Did you know they were switching one guitar back and forth?

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      1. Sometimes “dopey” and cornball is okay with me. I think they did a good job with this but people are always going to want the usual. The bros gave them that with a few other musical ideas thrown in. Feel good album. I think we agree. I did not know about the “switching” thing. I was ahuge fan of both SRV and The Thunderbirds. Same roots.

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  2. ” Back in the day,” don’t you love that phrase. It covers a whole spectrum of things before it all went to hell. The Studio Club was a popular rock/dance club in Dallas during the 60s and 70s. I played in a band then, “The Orphans” and we were to play on a Saturday night. We arrived early to set up and soundcheck and there was a band there rehearsing. They called the band “Texas.” Back then most musicians in Dallas knew each other, so all the guys but one were familiar to us. This band, that included Jimmy Vaughn on lead, was ripping it up. The ripper was a young kid on a telecaster that was hanging around with his older brother. Stevie Vaughn made quite an impression on us that day. Around Dallas and Fort Worth, people still cross themselves when we speak of those brothers.

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    1. My reading on this advises that they were called Texas in the ’68-69 time frame. Is that about right? SRV would have been 14 or 15. In any event, that is a great story. I became aware that Texas even HAD a blues scene when Johnny Winter arrived, both guns blazing. Then later, Austin with the T-Birds though I was not to get down to Texas until the late ’90s. I first heard SRV like most of the rest of the world on Bowie’s Let’s Dance album.

      I went to Austin for a class maybe 7 or 8 years ago for the first time. I made a beeline for Antone’s which, alas, had seen better days and was pretty empty. At least that night. But they had a little shrine to SRV on one side. One of my classmates was impressed that I’d even HEARD of Antone’s but how could you not? You think Dallas loves those guys? No disrespect but Austin’s got the Stevie statue. 🙂

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  3. Those dates are right. We played Studio Club pretty heavy in 68-69. Other groups in that rotation were Kenny and the Casuals, La Cirque The Sundown Collection, The Mystics, US Kids, The Sensations, Dancing Bear, The Us Four, The Chessmen, The Coachmen, The Briks, The Novas and Texas. Tommy Malloy was the bass player for Texas, but he also played with The Chessman. I saw him a few years back at Guitar Center in Fort Worth. Jimmy Vaughn is one hell of a guitar player, but even at a young age, STevie Ray topped him. Dallas did have a blues scene then, it wasn’t as big as it was in Austin and Houston. ZZ Top started in Dallas and moved on to Houston only to settle in Austin. Read my interview on my blog with Garage Band and Big D 60s, it gives some insight into what was happening then. Yeah, Antones is a bit dated, but still a great venue. Stevie Ray embraced the Austin vibe and they embraced him back. Good music going on in Big D and Fort Worth but Austin is nirvana. Spent some time in Austin during the cowboy hippie era 74-76 playing with some different folks.

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    1. Just read the interviews. Loved the “drums on fire” anecdote. I grew up in Philly and so, knew nothing of the Dallas/Fort Worth music scene. I started to piece together Texas’ role in music later when I went back and studied the blues

      So, help me understand something. Your father was Johnny Strawn who played with Bob Wills and all those guys? And you called yourself Johnny when playing in bands back then but now call yourself Phil?

      Last thing – I absolutely took up guitar ‘coz i loved the music of the Beatles. The idea that this would lead to meeting girls was not only the furthest thing from my mind, but I didn’t even really connect the two. I was way late to playing clubs, like 24, 25. And at that point, all I wanted to do was play blues on stage. Getting girls, again, not an issue. I was living with my girlfriend by then and truthfully, the bass player had a hell of a lot more style and sex appeal than I did on stage. How sad is that? 🙂 But I can totally understand a 16 or 17-year old using that to meet the ladies.

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  4. Glad you read the interviews. I changed to Phil, my middle name as to not be confused with my father. Dallas Fort Worth had a huge rock scene in those days. A friend of mine, Mark Nobles made a movie about it, Teen A-Go-Go, and it’s on Netflix and Amazon. If you watch it, 3 old guys are being interviewed on a stage, Danny Goode ( Orphans, ATNT, Excels) is left, myself is center and James Goode ( Excels) on right. It includes interviews with The Novas, The Mystics and many others. Yes, my father did play with Bob for a short while but became a full-time member of The Light Crust Doughboys in the early fifties. Bob mentored my Dad for many years, and Dad and many of the Doughboys were present when Merle Haggard recorded The Last Time back in the early seventies, a few months before Bob passed. I am working on a story about Dad and Bob and will publish soon along with pictures from my personal collection. Fall of 2020 will bring a new book by my friends Gene Fowler and William Williams about the history of Texas music, rock, country, and western swing. TCU Press will publish. Nice to meet a fellow historian.

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    1. That’s freakin’ awesome. I’m not a huge country fan per se but I know of Bob Wills because Dickey Betts is a massive fan. The Light Crust Doughboys was a new name for me. I’ll give them a spin. Thanks for the insight on the Dallas scene of the time.

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  5. A SRV series, eh? Nice one. I got into him a couple of years ago off the back of that Sonic Highways show (best thing Foo Fighters have ever done, if you ask me) and nabbed everything I could get my hands on. Anyhoo, I forgot about a copy of this album I was watching on eBay and it literally sold for £2. I was gutted – it’s excellent.

    As well as listening to Texas Flood a lot, I hit up the Austin City Limits performances on YouTube. Outrageously good.

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    1. I doubt if it’ll be a 4-part epic like Elvis. As great a guitarist as he was, he’s not quite the iconic figure Elvis was and not as overall impactful. The Austin City limits appearances were, to coin an overused word, iconic.

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  6. A tribute wall to Jimmy and Stevie is being installed in Oak Cliff any day now. Although not a statue, it is a metal wall relief with their likeness etched into the metal. The boys are from Oak Cliff so it is the appropriate home for the tribute. What concerns most fans is the park chosen for the wall, taggers are sure to ruin it in record time. Everything vertical in Dallas has been ruined by taggers. I would welcome Banksey, at least he has talent.

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