Blues ‘n’ boogie guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan died Aug. 27 in a helicopter crash, and so this — the first album he made with his guitarist brother Jimmie — is the last album he’ll ever record. It’s a touching memorial.
”We had a great time making this record,” Stevie Ray Vaughan said afterward. ”We spent more time together than we have since we were kids.”
Much of the joy they felt carries over into their performance in Family Style, though in other ways the music has no special significance. One slowish, gospel-tinged song, ”Tick Tock,” does break new ground for the brothers, as for the first time either separately or together they tackle a serious subject — the bright, peaceful future that the people of the world could build, if only (while ”time’s ticking away”) they’d all get together. But otherwise the music is just good-timey stuff, spiced with a taste here and there of Memphis R&B, memorable at its best for exhilaration and a solid, prancing beat.
On the final cut, an instrumental called ”Brothers,” the Vaughans trade licks on a single guitar, which (not that there’s any way you can tell just from listening) they’re passing back and forth. And maybe that kind of fun is the best legacy any blues ‘n’ boogie guy could leave. Music like this is supposed to make you feel good. Would Stevie Ray Vaughan want to be remembered as a tragic hero, wafted to eternity on an album reeking with Significance? B+