When it comes to blues rock, one name always stands above the rest: Stevie Ray Vaughn. The kind of influence Vaughan had in his genre is incomparable. His mainstream career only lasted seven years, yet his music has gone on to impact and inspire so many artists that came after him. Vaughan passed away in a helicopter accident in 1990 when he was only 35 years old. He’s considered to this day to be one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Vaughan was even inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame posthumously. The famed musician released 6 studio albums during his career, and here we’ve ranked them all from his worst to his very best.
6. Family Style (1990) 235
Vaughan has always looked up to his brother Jimmy. In fact, it was Jimmy that inspired 7-year-old Stevie Ray to pick up the guitar and learn to play. Decades later, the brothers would finally come together to create an album, Family Style. The album falls as the least favorite one out of the 6 mainly because of its production style. Vaughan’s guitar still manages to shine here on many occasions, but it isn’t the type of blues album that many fans were hoping for. There’s an upbeat groove throughout the entire album that’s pretty unusual for Vaughan, especially if he were playing with his band Double Trouble. Still, Family Style is a good listen. Songs such as Good Texan and Hillbillies from Outer Space have a fun honky-tonk approach. But Brothers has to be our favorite. Not only is it blues guitar driven; it’s also just an instrumental exchange between the two siblings, probably just doing what they loved to do together.
5. The Sky is Crying (1991)
The intro song to The Sky is Crying is basically the best explanation for the whole album. The energy is sky-high on this one, and the guitar is just astonishing. Unfortunately, this album was released posthumously, so listening to it is bittersweet. The Sky is Crying is the last album that we would ever get from this blues genius. The sky definitely cried, especially on the title track. Apart from this, however, many of the songs on the album felt unfinished because in essence, they were. Had Vaughan still been alive during this time, this album would probably sound completely different—a little more cohesive. But we still hold on to it like the treasure that it is because it’s a bittersweet memory of the talent the world lost.
4. Soul to Soul (1985)
All those wah wahs and we can’t get enough. Stevie Ray Vaughan definitely knew how to make the guitar sing. And cry. And do all sorts of other things. Being his third studio album, Soul to Soul was comprised of many bold moves. For one, the incredible opener, Say What!, was purely instrumental. Perhaps Vaughan didn’t really need to sing at all because this track outshone many on the album, but tracks such as Ain’t Gone’n’ Give Up On Love quickly proves that theory wrong. He sounds so proficient and masterful on this track. It makes the entire album worth the listening effort.
3. Texas Flood (1983) 910
Texas Flood was the first studio album from Stevie Ray Vaughan, and it remains to be one of his bests. Not only did Texas Flood really showcase his talent as a blues guitarist and singer; this album also showcased Vaughan’s ability to write blues music. Many blue artists back then and to this day remake traditional blues tracks. Vaughan, however, has the incredible ability to write blues hits. He composed half of the songs on this album, and that half’s probably the better one. The opener Love Struck Baby is a prime example of his songwriting and composing skill. Pride and Joy and Rude Mood are some of our favorites on the album as well. Just listen to him play on Rude Mood. He’s unbelievably rude on that guitar, and we can’t help but love it.
2. Couldn’t Stand the Weather (1984)
Killer guitars and intricate solos. Vaughan and his band came out with this album with something in mind to prove—the success of their debut was not a fluke. These guys knew what they were doing. The short instrumental opener, Scuttle Buttin’, was proof enough of that. Couldn’t Stand the Weather is a hefty rock and roll blues album that remains to be one of the best blues album that came out of that era. The Things That I Used to Do is a stunning song, as well as all the covers that Vaughan dedicated here. There’s Hendrix’s Voodoo Child, Kendrid’s Cold Shot, and Geddins’ Tin Pan Alley, which Vaughan elaborated into a 9-minute tribute. Couldn’t Stand the Weather is a true blues classic. No playlist should be without it.
1. In Step (1989)
There’s something interesting about In Step that makes it different from the rest of his album. This is the last album that Vaughan had worked on in its entirety while he was still alive. The next album he released was with his brother, and the one that followed that was released posthumously. In Step had a more modernized sound that can’t be found on his earlier albums. It’s possible that Vaughan was on his was to transformation. We miss a little bit of the old on this one, but we can definitely appreciate the new sounds we hear. In Step is also possibly one of Vaughan’s best works vocally. He’s pushing his range here such as in Crossfire, and it sounds like heaven to our ears. Tightrope is cool masterpiece, while Leave My Little Girl Alone is just heartbreaking. It’s just great work from a master of his craft.