On the classic 1972 live album Roadwork, Edgar Winter immortalized the words, when introducing brother Johnny: "Everybody asks me…where's your brother?" It's a question that fans have besieged both Winters with for over two decades, and now Johnny gets a chance to return the tribute with his latest. Edgar does in fact guest on the sessions, blowing sax and tinkling keys on a few tracks, and dueting with big bro on a superb, seasonal rendition of "Please Come Home for Christmas".
With this concert, Johnny Winter brings to the Jazzaldia Festival in Spain the brand of intense, rootsy, virtuoso blues that has been his trademark since he began his career in the 1960's. For this how, Winter mixes blues and R&B classics like "Hideaway", "Miss Ann" and "Blackjack" with his own songs, as well as a virtuoso take on the well-loved Jimi Hendrix blues "Red House". and he closes the show wiith his famous, searing rendition of "Highway 61 Revisited".
Winter's debut album for Columbia was also arguably his bluesiest and best. Straight out of Texas with a hot trio, Winter made blues-rock music for the angels, tearing up a cheap Fender guitar with total abandon on tracks like "I'm Yours and I'm Hers," "Leland Mississippi Blues," and perhaps the slow blues moment to die for on this set, B.B. King's "Be Careful with a Fool." Winter's playing and vocals have yet to become mannered or clichéd on this session, and if you've ever wondered what the fuss is all about, here's the best place to check out his true legacy.
Although his early Columbia albums brought him worldwide stardom, it was this modest little album (first released on Imperial before the Columbia sides) that first brought Johnny Winter to the attention of guitarheads in America. It's also Winter at the beginning of a long career, playing the blues as if his life depends on it, without applying a glimmer of rock commercialism. The standard classic repertoire here includes "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "I Got Love if You Want It," "Forty-Four," "It's My Own Fault," and "Help Me," with Winter mixing it up with his original Texas trio of Red Turner on drums and Tommy Shannon (later of Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble) on bass. A true classic, this is one dirty, dangerous, and visionary album.
After two stellar sets for the independent blues label Alligator Records, Johnny Winter wisely changes things up on his third Alligator LP. He brings in Dr. John to play organ on "Love, Life and Money" and, more prominently, piano on "Tin Pan Alley." He plays a National steel guitar on "Bad Girl Blues" (a blues about lesbians!) and uses his slide with another National on "Evil on My Mind." And, most significant, he reunites with his old rhythm section of bass player Tommy Shannon and drummer Uncle John "Red" Turner (with whom he played from the late ‘60s to 1970) on "See See Baby," "Shake Your Moneymaker," and "Broke and Lonely." Particularly on those three tracks, he sounds like the blues-rock singer/guitarist who garnered so much attention when he first emerged from Texas as an "overnight" national star in 1969. Those days have passed, but Winter has matured into a dependable blues musician able to shine in a variety of styles and bring out the best in his fellow musicians.
Johnny Winter releases perhaps his greatest album on September 2, 2014! Step Back features an amazing list of musical guests and takes Johnny back to a more aggressive style of blues… one that helped shape the musical icon.