" Anthology "
Rock n Roll, Blues and Some Hoochie Koo, Too, (09/23/09)
A good deal of terrain is covered on this two CD box set, thirty-five tunes in all, starting (in chronological order) with 1969's The Progressive Blues Experiment and closes up with Johnny's '04 I'm a Bluesman. All in all, there is just one track from Progressive Blues Experiment, three from the first Columbia Johnny Winter recording, five from Second Winter, three from the studio Johnny Winter And, and four from the high-powered Johnny Winter And Live. Four are culled from Still Alive and Well, four tracks from Saints & Sinners, John Dawson Winter III checks in two, two from Captured Live!, and two tunes from Together - Edgar & Johnny Winter. There's just one track from the more latter day albums: Nothing' But the Blues, White, Hot & Blue, Raisin' Cain, Guitar Slinger, Hey Where's Your Brother, Live in NYC '97, and I'm a Bluesman. The one track extractions from Winter's last seven recordings are quite telling, but more about that later.
Having seen Johnny Winter And at the Fillmore left a major mark on my brain, as this band was one of the most explosive bands I have ever seen perform. Thus it's no surprise that my favorite songs come from this era. The studio Johnny Winter And is largely overlooked, but check out the complex guitar interplay by Winter with the smartly added second guitarist Rick Derringer, whom I always felt pulled the best out of Johnny, evidenced by "Prodigal Son" authored by Winter. Things roar into overdrive on the four Johnny Winter And Live tunes. The best are covers of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode," and the Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash." Missing in action and sorely missed here is the dynamite cover of B.B. King's "It's My Own Fault" which is a shame as it's an intense rendition! The Winter/Derringer teamwork continues for several albums after the Johnny Winter And band, but their intense partnership was never the same as it was on those first two recordings together. The pop'ish "Saints & Sinners" is a good example of why it was time for Johnny to move on, as it was the next to last Winter/Derringer collaboration.
Midway through the '70s Winter went from a power trio to adding another second guitarist (Floyd Radford) to encoring Rick Derringer back into his band along with brother Edgar. But the burning light that Winter once exhibited seemed to be slightly dimming. Johnny moved on from Columbia records to Blue Sky where he recorded six records, most noteworthy Nothin' But the Blues with Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Pinetop Perkins, Bob Margolin, Clarence Calmese, and Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith, of which only "Sweet Love and Evil Women" is included here.
In '84. Bruce Iglauer inked Johnny to Alligator and brought in the talented Dick Shurman to co-produce, but from those three Alligator recordings, just one track appears; "Guitar Slinger." Yet Shurman stays on with Johnny for two Pointblank albums, and Johnny's latest on Virgin from '04.
This Johnny Winter Anthology is a great way to introduce or re-familiarize yourself with Winter's recorded output which now spans forty years. While there are no previously unreleased bonus tracks, the twenty-four page booklet is bonus material, as it's very informative with a fine narrative courtesy of Jerry McCulley. Last but not least, the detailed discography and musicians credits is perfect and very welcomed.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com