It was back in’73 (yeah, that makes me ….old!) when I bought Rory Gallagher’s ‘Live In Europe’ album that I became completely sold on Blues Rock. Listening to that album also led to a deeper interest in The Blues in general as I explored Rory’s influences.
Ultimately, that particular journey led me to the door (figuratively speaking of course …. I’m not some of wacko, psycho- stalker fan type) of JOHNNY WINTER. This dude can play! And he’s been around a while (some might say rather surprisingly so, given his rather extravagant and at times extreme lifestyle) and jammed and recorded with the best of them.
Like Rory Gallagher, JOHNNY WINTER has drawn influence from a great many sources along the way, both in terms of the Blues itself as well as the iconic performers of old, and this album pays homage to those who provided such inspiration.
The eleven songs on this studio album are all Blues ‘standards,’ with all but one (‘Got My Mojo Workin’’) featuring guest artists. And this is the wonderful thing about listening to music and reading sleeve notes – it invariable leads you to check out other artists and sounds. In this instance, much as I enjoy The Blues, many of the Johnny’s guests were unknown to me. Not any more – my horizon has been broadened!
Being also a fan of Johnny’s brother, Edgar (yeah – he of ‘Free Ride’ and ‘Frankenstein’ fame) I was immediately drawn to track eight, ‘Honky Tonk’ on which his sibling lends his saxophone playing. This is the only instrumental on the album, but probably one of my favourite tracks. The tune will be familiar I’m sure to most people, whether or not they are particular fans of The Blues, and it’s easy to see on reflection where Grinderswitch ultimately sought inspiration for their ‘Pickin’ The Blues’ track that was synonymous with the theme tune to the late John Peel’s radio show.
This album is simply littered with classic Blues tracks – ones that will even be recognisable to many listeners who profess no particular allegiance to the genre. ‘Dust My Broom’ features some brilliant slide guitar from Derek Truckson, while the brilliant Sonny Landreth adds a similar touch to the opener, ‘T-Bone Shuffle.’
Susan Tedeschi bring a light blast of freshness with her vocals (and guitar) on ‘Bright Lights, Big City,’ It just goes on and on.
Of the eleven tracks, only ‘Maybellene’ falls short of three minutes, the majority of tracks extending beyond four, leaving plenty room for the various players to showcase their talent with extended solo pieces.
(Apart from Johnny Winter himself and all the luminaries who join him on the album, I think mention should go to the rhythm section on each of the tracks. Blues Rock, I feel anyway, is as much dependant on the bass-line as the lead guitar. Am I the only one who mentally hums that lower end of the songs?)
Whatever, this is a real stomper of an album. The only reason you feet will not be tapping along to this one is if they’ve been nailed to the floor in the first place.
(Released through Megaforce Records on 26th September 2011)
(10 / 10)