Harvey Brooks calls Johnny Winter the most iconic pop blues player around. This two disc set is a true anthology and gives brief glimpses into all phases Winter's career; from his very early work as a blues trio in 1967 with Tommy Shannon (think Stevie Ray Vaughn's Double Trouble) on bass and Red Turner on drums right thru to 2004's I'm A Bluesman. It covers the early recording of the music Winter loves, the Blues, into his run with Steve Paul as spiritual/organic advisor, and his shifting directions with Rick Derringer of The McCoys in the control booth and with his band backing him into straight ahead rock, and, gradually after kicking his heroin addiction, back to his initial love the Blues. This is a very comprehensive two disc set that includes 35 songs from 18 albums. As with any anthology it touches only the perceived highlights as seen by those that compiled this disc. It seems to concentrate on his flash and not enough attention is paid to the more quiet side of this complex bluesman, who is still playing and still able to hold his own with some of the best axe-men around.
There is plenty of vintage playing here, including a number of collaborations he did with his brother, Edgar Winter, on Saxes, piano, organ, harpsichord and vocals. For a brief overview it is filled with some fine examples of his guitar and slide guitar work, which can range from touching to snarling and savage. His growling, sometimes scowling vocals emphasize the music that he played. He presented one hell of a figure when he was on stage as a tall and emaciated looking albino with long hair and very little stage patter, his shows were song after ferocious song played in a truculent and untamed manner, and this is not a criticism, but rather praise. One of the most complete showcases of what he was capable of doing to a song, containing both vocal and guitar savagery is Be Careful With The Fool from the album Johnny Winter.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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