" Live at Rockpalast "
Blueswax Rating 8
The DVD Live at Rockpalast was recorded during the spring of 1979 and features guitarist/vocalist Johnny Winter, who also plays bass with Jon Paris' bass, vocals, guitar, and harp, and the sparsely clad Bobby Torello on drums. The concert was captured for Germany's popular Rockpalast TV show. The video quality is odd with decent close-ups, but blurry on the more faraway settings. The audio is good, but not spectacular. The DVD runs for ninety minutes and includes ten tunes, no interviews, no bonus footage, nor are there any special effects options, just raw and for the most part powerful performances.
Right from the start the band rolls through a high spirited "Hideaway" that turns into an extended jam. Then Winter and Paris trade off riffs with each taking short solos in jazz fashion at breakneck speeds before they take it on out for the conclusion. "Messin' With the Kid" also turns into a torrid jam where Johnny enjoys toying with the crowd as the band gets a little funky with some James Brown-like stops and stutters. Eventually they blast off and take it on out one more time.
Other highpoints include Willie Brown's "Mississippi Blues." Winter steps up to the microphone saying, "If it wasn't for blues, there would be no rock 'n' roll." Then he instrumentally introduces an electric solo which Paris makes into a duo by playing harp. Finally, the entire band chimes in and the band rolls. "Suzie Q" starts slowly and simmers before Winter shifts into overdrive, they slow it back down again, and the song meanders a bit and drags on a little too long.
It's interesting to see Paris take over the vocals and switch to lead guitar while Johnny plays bass on two songs, "I'm Ready" and "Rockabilly Boogie," where it's mostly rock 'n' roll. There's also a wild segment where Johnny stands behind Paris playing Paris' guitar as Paris leans back to pluck Johnny's bass. It's bizarre, but they pull it off to the delight of the cheering crowd. Next up there's a medley of older blues tunes that is too lengthy. The finale brings us back to rock 'n' roll with a rollicking rendition of the Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash," which isn't as good as the version on Winter's Johnny Winter And Live. It's a bit short, yet it serves as a fitting closing to the this fine set of music.
This DVD is a nice flashback of what Winter and his trio were up to in 1979. Throughout the evening, it was special to watch Johnny speak to the crowd about the merits of blues music too. All in all, this is a very worthwhile addition to your DVD collection. I certainly enjoyed it and suspect you will too.
Note: Included with my copy of this DVD was a limited edition (1,500) figurine of Johnny Winter that supposedly will be first in a series. It's made of poly resin, stands about seven inches, has head and arm movement, and when the button is depressed yells "Rock 'n' Roll!" But I thought it would have been more appropriate had there'd been an additional option to say "Play the Blues," too. More details can be found at: www.GuitarGods.com
Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at www.SoundsofBlue.com. Bob maybe contacted at: email@example.com
Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com