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Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble: Texas Flood - Album Of The Week Club review

Texas Flood was the debut album from Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Texas cat with the hat and the Strat who hot-wired the 80s blues revival

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble: Texas Flood
(Image: © Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble)
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

(Image credit: Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble)

Love Struck Baby
Pride and Joy
Texas Flood
Tell Me
Testify
Rude Mood
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Dirty Pool
I'm Cryin'
Lenny

On June 13, 1983, Epic released Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble's Texas Flood onto an unsuspecting and blues-starved world. 

And, unlikely as it now seems, this battle-hardened combo even became pop stars. The video for Love Struck Baby was regularly played on the fledgling MTV channel, along with George Thorogood and the DestroyersBad To The Bone. The blues was officially back in business. 

“They didn’t have enough videos to play 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said drummer Chris Layton. “They would just keep showing the same videos over and over again. We made a video and they played it all the time. They would show Love Struck Baby fives times a day, which added more exposure to the band.”

But not everyone was impressed. Kurt Loder in Rolling Stone said Vaughan’s singing was “genuinely generic” and that he couldn’t write lyrics, either. “Stevie Ray does his thing well but, essentially, it’s somebody else’s thing,” said Loder, who concluded his review by adding: “Texas Flood is well worth hearing, even if you have heard it all before. After all, it’s been a long time, right?”

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Background

Like most ‘overnight sensations’, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s massive success when Texas Flood was released, on June 13, 1983, was a long time coming and not without a few technical hiccups along the way.

Their first day in the studio was spent just setting up equipment, leaving them just the Saturday and Sunday to put the tracks down. The set was made up of songs they had played night after night on the circuit, including Buddy Guy’Mary Had A Little Lamb and Howlin’ Wolf’s Tell Me, as well as Vaughan’s originals, such as Love Struck Baby and the instrumental Lenny.

“We set up in the middle of the floor, like we were playing a gig inside a warehouse," said drummer Chris Layton. "We ran through all the songs on Texas Flood about three times and took the best songs from the three run throughs. It was just a warehouse. You would look around and see flight cases. There was a big open space in the middle of the floor, where we set up the band.

“The thing about Texas Flood is we were not going in to make a studio record,” he adds. “We played the music the way the band played every night and we recorded it. We didn’t even have tape with us. We actually recorded Texas Flood over an old tape, which Jackson Browne had used to do pre-production on his record Lawyers in Love. We were really not prepared. We just packed our stuff, begged, borrowed and stole, and played and music."

Other albums released in June 1983

  • Your Move - America
  • Another Perfect Day - Motörhead
  • Allies - Crosby, Stills & Nash
  • Plays Live - Peter Gabriel
  • London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. 1 - Frank Zappa
  • Body Wishes - Rod Stewart
  • State of Confusion - The Kinks
  • This Means War - Tank
  • The Wild Heart - Stevie Nicks
  • Diamond Head - Canterbury
  • Old Wave - Ringo Starr
  • Synchronicity - The Police
  • Works - Pink Floyd
  • You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll - Twisted Sister
  • Diamond Jack and the Queen of Pain - Kevin Ayers
  • Farewell Tour - Doobie Brothers
  • The Fugitive - Tony Banks
  • Hand of Kindness - Richard Thompson
  • Keep it Up - Loverboy
  • Secret Messages - Electric Light Orchestra
  • Sound Elixir - Nazareth
  • Suicidal Tendencies - Suicidal Tendencies

What they said...

"Vaughan's playing is by turns tasteful and blistering, and it's not surprising the album gets a lot of credit for revitalising the blues scene at the time. Well-chosen covers like Tell Me, Testify, and the title track fit right alongside originals like Love Struck Baby and Pride and Joy; Vaughan definitely turns everything into a showcase for his unique style. It's still probably the best place to start for those unfamiliar with his music." (Pop Matters)

"Texas Flood was Stevie Ray Vaughan’s opening gambit as he moved from Austin clubland to the world’s stages in 1983, with a brand of supercharged white-boy guitar blues not heard since fellow Texan Johnny Winter some 15 years earlier. The record was cut with small amplifiers over two days at mentor Jackson Browne’s studio and did well to come across as brashly as it did – though the disparity between Vaughan’s vocal ability and his fiery guitar licks was always evident" (Record Collector)

"The album’s dogged devotion to the blues may make some complain of inordinately narrow margins. Moreover, it’s difficult to shake the feeling of songs sometimes serving little purpose other than that of exhaustingly showcasing Vaughan’s guitar prowess. However, few can doubt the sheer musical brilliance on display. Vaughan’s retooling of the blues made it relevant to a new generation." (BBC)

What you said...

Brian Anderson" I’ve never owned this album, nor sat down to listen to it all at once, and yet I’m familiar with every track on it. That sums up the brilliance of SRV. Despite the lack of mainstream airplay, despite him being gone for nearly 30 years, his outstanding ability keeps him at the forefront of rock/blues. 

That been said, I’m not a big fan of this style of music, I find it very heavy going. I’ve studied the brilliant Pride And Joy, and Mary Had A Little Lamb, marvelling at how effortless they sound while never quite being able to recreate Stevie’s technique. A genius I will always have time for, provided I take him song by song.

Carl Black: When I was younger my Fridays went like this: up to the Haslemere Hotel (which was like a cross between the Queen Vic in Eastenders and the Titty Twister in From Dusk till Dawn). On Saturdays it was a disco but on Fridays it was band night. 

I'd say half of the bands were very much in a similar vain to SRV. If I close my eyes I can certainly hear a few of these songs being played by a host of bands who performed in that joint. So even through I've never heard this album I kind of feel like I have. I've definitely heard the Mary Had A Little Lamb song a bundle of times. 

I enjoyed the album, the instrumental a lot more, but much like all the bands of this ilk who played at the Hotal, I woke up the next morning with happy memories but no desire to listen or see this type of band/music again. But it was nice to listen to and remember when I was younger. 

Iain Macaulay This is a great album, it’s not perfect but it is great. But here’s the catch that I see, it’s only great if you are a blues or boogie lover or, to be much more precise, a guitar player enthusiast. The way Stevie plays these songs and how he attacks them is what matters here. 

The blues is not known as a very complicated form of music but some of the chops, licks and riffs he plays are quite intricate and difficult to replicate but also very satisfying for guitarists to attempt and pull off. Mary Had A Little Lamb being a case in point. Pick up an acoustic guitar and play it and it all makes sense. 

There are better SRV tracks across his catalogue and the live stuff surpasses all his recorded outpost. But this being his debut set the bar high. What could have been If only he’d lived.

Eddie Peuker: I have never listened to the entire Album. I knew many of the tunes: Mary Had A Little Lamb, a classical tune infused with many of SRV's signature strokes, bends, and slides conquered my disbelief that a childhood tune was a "filler" tune... a power filler. 

I was not exposed to SRV until after his passing. I am enough of a fan that I made sure to travel to Austin TX to see a SRV statue. I felt that this album demonstrates him in his time, at his best, hitting every lick he knows and maybe a few he found while recording. 

This album is an excellent catalog of a long ago past master of western influenced guitar blues maybe you call it boogie woogie. I don't think of this as any thing but awesome listening. I wonder if SRV had lived would he continue to have expanded his licks or grown stagnated like so many other masters of the art of guitar.

Hai Kixmiller: Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble weren't just a blues act. They are the culmination, the musical amalgamation of all things Texas. You can hear – or rather, sense – the musical mastery of improvisation and devil-may-care attitude like country music greats; Bob Wills & Texas Playboys and Waylon Jennings. You can hear the ghost of Rock n' Roll Icons Buddy Holly and Johnny Winter. And you definitely hear the influences of Texas Blues greats, Lightnin' Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, Blind Willie Johnson, and Albert Collins. 

His main influences, Albert King, Jimi Hendrix and Lonnie Mack are also very evident in his sound. There's even a lot of jazz influence and riffs throughout his music. Mind-blowing guitar, coupled with, arguably, the best rhythm section ever assembled gave Stevie Ray Vaughn a seat at the Table of Guitar Gods in a time when shredders were the Kings.

Texas Flood introduces SRV to the world, but the world would only get to enjoy and embrace him for a short seven years. In those seven years SRV would get right with his demons and really start to master his art. I often wonder what more he had to offer, but I'm ever so thankful for what he left us.

Tom O'Brien: It was a seminal moment in my musical journey the first time I heard this. Received this album as promotional giveaway (still have it) when I went to see Zebra (who?!?) at a local club. About a month later SRV came to that same club in central NY and me and about a dozen other people were blown away by an on fire performance.

From the opening of Love Struck to the last strains of Lenny, I sat in awe of what I was hearing on this album. What kind guitar magic was this? It was like nothing I heard before in my small town isolation.

It started me on an exploration of the blues that continues 36 years later. With this album and subsequent offerings, SRV almost singlehandedly revived the blues into what it is today.

Mauricio Telles: Of course I like SRV, but when all the hype came about him, I was already a fan of the great Johnny Winter, that had recorded a lot of albums before SRV, so I always thought that that hype was unfair. SRV has better production, more commercial appeal, but the MF in this business is Johnny Winter. Score is 6 for me.

Bill Griffin: This is a pretty good album but I'm thinking that blues is best appreciated in the live setting so, despite knowing that the album was essentially live, I prefer the second disc on the 2013 reissue. I also can't help but wonder why I'm Cryin' was included instead of Tin Pan Alley; I'm Cryin' is just Pride and Joy revisited.

Mike Knoop: Around the time of the Black Crowes' second album, I was enthusing to a friend about them. He responded, "They're good at what they do. I just don't like what they do." That's how I feel about Stevie Ray Vaughan and adult contemporary blues. I like the SRV-penned instrumentals Rude Mood and Lenny". The playing on those tracks seems really uninhibited and free from formula. Otherwise, not my cuppa, but if it's yours, please enjoy.

John Davidson" I know that SVR is a revered artist so will tread lightly with this review. This album is not for me. On that basis I probably won't score it. It used to annoy me when Sounds or the NME published reviews for concerts or albums they just didn't like as it doesn't add anything of value to the conversation for those who might.

The opening three or four songs on the album are straight out of the 1950s Rhythm and Blues history book and – lovingly recreated though they are – they still sound like Bill Haley & the Comets or like BB King without the big band Jazz stylings in the background. Its not until Testify when SVR really seems to let rip that I can see what all the fuss is about.

Sometimes working within the constraints of genre can result in great art, either as an exemplary instance of it or as a ground breaking re-interpretation that goes beyond it. What SVR here does is more like the former than the latter.

It's undoubtedly honest and well executed but to my ears it doesn't add anything new to the genre (but as its not a genre I particularly like that maybe doesn't say much). Of his contemporaries I prefer the richer tones of a Robert Cray and in more recent years, the more commercial blues rock output from the likes of Joe Bonamassa.

Philip Qvist: One of the essential modern blues albums from a gifted guitarist, singer and songwriter - and a tight rhythm duo named Double Trouble.

The title track is awesome, and not a single dud on an astonishing debut.

SRV was the real deal, and more - that helicopter crash took away a huge talent.

Nick Fitzgerald: I realise that it is considered sacrilege to criticise SRV in any way shape or form in most music forums, but I always found this album (I had a copy many years ago) incredibly frustrating. 

His playing is off the scale, without a doubt, but I can't shake the feeling that this is the blues done by commercial marketing men. A nice, sanitised, pleasant, poppy version that reaches a wide audience and can make a ton of cash for the record company. The sort of record that your middle aged parents wouldn't mind. 

Now that I'm a middle aged parent I'd still rather listen to a rawer, more expressive version of the blues. Don't get me wrong - I don't dislike it, just feel it's all a bit safe and restrained and I'd rather listen to Jimi Hendrix. But I'm probably going lay the some criticism at almost any album from the 1980's that we get on here.

Jacob Tannehill: An absolute must-own in Stevie's discography. He doesn’t have a clunker at all in his body of work, but this album and his last studio album In Step are his two best.

Today I can tell you every song on this album was a shot in the arm that rock and blues totally needed. It doesn’t sound dated at all.

Stand out tracks: pride and joy of course (song will never get old) Mary had a little lamb.

Also includes my two favourite instrumentals of his: Rude Mood and Lenny.

In retrospect, I am kind of glad he turned down touring with David Bowie for the Let’s Dance album. Stevie paid his dues and was ready for the spotlight.

If you’ve heard this album, time to give it another spin. If you’ve never heard this album, time to stop what you’re doing and give it a spin.

Jonathan Novajosky: Not crazy at all about this album. I feel like I'm listening to the same song over and over, but I realise I will probably in the minority with that opinion. Pride and Joy is decent, but too repetitive (as are the instrumentals on the album that go nowhere for me). 5/10

Randy Banner: Another artist that, given his legacy, I should be more familiar with; but apart from a handful of tracks, I've never taken the time to explore. On first ever listen, I notice that this this album is very well-produced; every note is crisp and clean. SVR is a phenomenal guitarist and the band is tight. 

As far as the songs go, there is nothing that I didn't like but I noticed that, for the most part, the album is relatively uptempo. I'm not a blues aficionado by any stretch, but I know what I like and I am more of a fan of slowed-down minor-key songs, therefore the standout tracks for me were Texas Flood, Dirty Pool and Lenny. As debut albums go, this is as good an introduction to SVR as one could ask for. I'm looking forward to expanding my familiarity with his musical catalog. 8/10

Fred Varcoe: When you rate albums out of 10, it's an exercise in comparison, but there are some artists out there that just don't have an equivalent. Particularly guitarists. Some are so unique, they are off the scale. They're not all perfect, but you can't say, 'Well, xxxx was better.' 

I'm thinking of Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, Robin Trower, Michael Schenker. And Stevie. 

The sheer impact he had was amazing because the blues was pretty much dead at the time. Stevie just blew away the cobwebs and took off. Even out of his brain on booze or drugs, he could blow anyone away. I saw him at Hammersmith Palais and even though he was just a day or two out of serious, serious rehab (he had his mother looking after him at the gig; she even wandered across the stage at one point halfway through the show), he lit up London. And when I play him now, my speakers just seem to glow in delight. Marks out of 10? It's got to be 11.

Matt Roy: This is a great album. It changed my whole perspective on music. It introduced an entire generation to a great genre of music and a stellar level of playing. I remember my metalhead friend saying “That dude can shred”. And man, that was so true. 

They playing on this album is incredible. There is not a weak song on this album. The foot stomping opener Love Struck Baby immediately grabs your attention. Then right into the shuffle beat of Pride And Joy that won’t allow a person to sit still. Texas Flood is a display of a truly deep traditional blues riff. And Rude Mood... well, it just kicks you right in the ass! 

Every song on this album is a display of great musicianship. It is one of the all time great albums. I never get tired of hearing it and still listen to it to this day. RIP SRV!

Final Score: 9.02 ⁄10 (283 votes cast, with a total score of 2555)

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