Roy Buchanan was the rarest of all rock’n’roll animals, the consummate guitarist’s guitarist. Others were flashier, others were faster, others still rose to far higher peaks. But Eric Clapton called him the best he’d ever heard, Jerry Garcia praised his “amazing chops,” the Rolling Stones asked him to join their band and Dale Hawkins, the rockabilly colossus who discovered Buchanan in the first place, was so enamored that he all but pulled the unknown youth out of high school to join him on the road. In a career which spanned more than 25 years, Roy Buchanan not only impressed some of rock’s biggest names, he left an indelible impression on them all. Born September 23rd, 1939, in Ozark, AL, but raised in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Leroy “Roy” Buchanan started playing guitar aged 9.
His first instrument was a Iap steel and, at 12, he was the prodigal star of the older Wale! Kapn Valley Boys. At 16, he moved to Los Angeles where he joined future Jefferson Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden in the Heartbeats, a band whose taOiE extended as far as a role in the movie Rock Pretty Baby, but those, ances were somewhat more limited. Touring the south, the group was abandoned by its agent in Oklahoma City, without the means to get home Buchanan had drifted no further than Tulsa before he Ianded a gig on Tulsa’s Oklahoma Bandstand show, which is where Hawkins encountered him.
Immediately, the “Susie Q” hitmaker offered Buchanan a job and, over thee next three years, the youngster’s edgy, heavy guitar all but defined . Buchanan left Hawkins in 1961, to team up with the singer’s cousin, Ronnie. His band, the Hawks, was just taking its first steps and Buchanan made an immediate impression – not least of all on the group’s other guitarist, a youngster named Robbie Robertson. In years to come, at the heim of The Band, Robertson rated Buchanan among the most significant influences on his career. Buchanan returned to the US later that year, marrying and settling in the DC area, and seemingly content to simply playing the Iocal clubs scene, filling in behind anyone who asked him to.
But word was spreading about this amazing guitarist and, in 1970, a Washington Star review finally revealed the best kept secret in town. The Washington Post followed suit and, when Rolling Stone, too, got in on the act, Buchanan’s future was sealed. While WNET TV producer John Adams began work on a documentary, suitably entitled Introducing Roy Buchanan, Buchanan signed with Polydor and, in 1972, he released his debut album, a self-titled jewel which still ranks among the most cohesive artistic statements of the age.
With his trademark ’53 Telecaster kicking out his “country mojo” brew of rock, blues, jazz, folk and anything eise that caught his ear, Buchanan rewrote the rules of guitar herodom – while remaining as self-effacingly modest as any genius could. “This star business scares the hell out of me,” he told a journalist in 1971, but the records he made were superstars regardless. This collection spotlights the five albums Buchanan cut at the peak of his career, between 1972-75, albums which defined American roots music at a time when the music itself was still seeking an identity. Only Buchanan’s own former friends in The Band were coming even close to the territory Buchanan was defining; but even they zeroed in on just one facet of his vision.
By the time of 1975’s in concert Live Stock, there wasn’t a guitarist alive who could touch Buchanan for technique, control, mood or feel. Such mercurial talent, however, masked some unimagined depths, as Buchanan lurched into a period of frustrating transience. Three late 1970s albums were followed by some six years of silence and rumor; it was 1985 before he returned to the recording studio, to cut the Grammy nominated When a Guitar Plays the Blues. Two further albums followed, but inexplicable tragedy lurked just around the corner. On August 14, 1988, Buchanan was arrested for drunkenness and placed in a cell. There, according to official accounts, he hanged himself with his own shirt. lt was a sad end to what many of Buchanan’s admirers insist was a sadly unfulfilled Iife – he could have done more, he should have done more. But maybe, across his greatest recordings, he’d already done enough.
The guitar would never sound the Same again. Dave Thompson
These web pages describe Johnny Winter’s guitars and gear he has used over the years.
The basic gear used by Johnny Winter during decades The Gibson Firebird mainly used for slide-guitar work, the Lazer guitar, the Chorus pedal and the Musicman amplifier
Gear used by Johnny Winter includes:
Guitars: Erlewine Lazer, Gibson Firebird for slide work.
Amplifier: 2 x Music Man, 200 watts, 4×10″. The Music Man amps Johnny uses are designated “one-thirty”. ( that is the model name and the power rating ) They employ 4 EL34 power tubes and 1 12AX7 as a splitter/driver. The preamp stage is solid state. In addtion to the 2 amps that have 4 10′ speakers (one is a stand-by, “on” but not used unless problems occur) there is usually a 2 12′ “one-thirty” on stage in case it sounds better in the venue.
Effects: MXR phase 90s , Boss C-E2 chorus (setttings), Tube Screamer – only used during slide work on the Firebird.
Strings: Dean Markley strings, .009, with an unwound G, also D’Addario .010, .013, .017, .026, .036 and .046.
Guitar strap: PR gimmick from No.1 Guitars in Hamburg, Germany (best shop in Europe, I swear), a little flexible number that you can pull down right to your knees.
Thumbpicks / picks: Gibson Thumbpicks
Johnny Winter Playing Technique
Johnny doesn’t use a flatpick. Instead he prefers to attack the strings with a thumbpick and his fingers. Sometimes he’ll grasp the thumbpick like a regular flatpick. “I’ll do that if I’m doing backstrokes (upstrokes) to keep the thing from falling off my thumb.”
Johnny keeps his right hand wrist fairly straight and his fingers barely move when he strums chords.
When playing slide however, he rotates his forearm slightly and mutes the idle strings with his right-hand palm and finger tips.
Winter’s left-hand posture also varies. When bending strings, Johnny generally hooks his thumb over the top of the neck for anchorage and uses his 2nd and 3rd fingers to push the string.
When playing anything that requires a wide finger stretch, Winter rotates his thumb behind the neck.
When playing slide, he mutes the strings behind the slide with his first three fingers. If he uses fingers for fretting, he keeps the slide a fair distance from the neck to avoid accidentally coming in contact with the strings.
Before I learned how to bend strings, I heard people do that on records, but I didn’t know how they were doing it” he said. “I was just using heavy Gibson Sonomatic strings, which were almost impossible to move. In those days they weren’t making lighter gauge strings. I found out later that a lot of blues guitarists were switching strings around. Some would replace the G string with a second B string. Others would substitute a high G banjo string or a high A pedal steel string for the high E and then move everything else down, putting the high E where the B normally is and the B where the G normally is, and so forth.
“After everyone figured out what was going on, the lighter gauges cam out. At first, I tried to pull on those big, fat Gibson strings with a Bigsby tremolo because that’s how I thought they were doing those bends.” Nowadays Johnny uses slightly heavier gauge strings and tunes each string down a whole step (Lowest to highest: D, G, C, F, A and D).
Johnny Winter’s Guitars used
Johnny’s first real guitar was a Gibson ES-125, without a cutaway and with a single pickup. Afterwards he used a Strat for a while, followed by a Les Paul Custom and a Gibson SG.
Johnny Winter playing a Gibson Les Paul Guitar
Johnny Winter playing a Gibson SG at Woodstock 69 Summer Pop Festivals (a photo review) by Joseph J. Sia 1970
After the Fender Mustang used on the Johnny Winter CBS album, Johnny used a gold-top Gibson Les Paul which he gave later on to Tommy Shannon
Johnny playing an Epiphone Wilshire . Used in the early 70’s on the Beatclub TV Show (Germany) and Royal Albert Hall concert
The Epiphone Wilshire can be distinguished from the Epiphone Crestwood by: The Wilshire has dot fingerboard inlays – the Crestwood has oval blocks. And the Wilshire has the stopbar tailpiece while the Crestwood has stock vibrato.
1969 Royal Albert Hall Concert in England; he’s playing an Epiphone Crestwood. It has a double cutaway body, Fender type headstock, and dual Gibson-type humbuckers.
Fender XII (twelve string model), with 6 six strings, body sort of like a Mustang, and 2 sets of split pickups like a Precision bass ; used during Woodstock and Fillmore concerts and the European tour in the early seventies.
For his first official album “Johnny Winter” he used a Fender Mustang, along with a National Steel Duolian.
Johnny Winter Photos playing the National Duolian
The back of the album cover for Saints and Sinners has a distorted/”fisheye lens” picture of Johnny holding a Gibson double-neck SG with two 6-string necks.
In the end of 70´s Johnny used also a metallic (but with hollow body so very light) electric guitar made by James Trussaurt from France.
Around 1992 also considered using an ESP Mirage, but returned playing his Lazer.
During his “And Live” period, he played the Firebird into 3 stacked Fender Twin Reverbs with JBL speakers. The Gibson Firebirds were followed by the Erlewine Lazer
For slide Johnny uses his old ’63 Gibson Firebird.
On some of the tracks of the album “Hey where’s your brother”, Johnny plays an: It’s an old Super 400 Gibson! The truss rod cover being on backwards is supposed to be funny. It’s harder to indentify because of the pickguard missing.
The Super 400 was the top of the line rich man’s guitar and is 18″ wide. You can always tell a 400 from the lower models because of the split block inlays. Up until they came out with the Le Grand, no other Gibson had those except for a special model of the Les Paul that you almost never see. Even in the rough shape that this one appears to be in, they are still worth a large amount of money.
Fender Mustang – Fender’s premiere sound and quality live on in these classic models that were the heart of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s electric guitar movement.
Fender Telecaster I’m not sure whether Johnny actually used the Fender Telecaster, but he is playing it on the inner sleeve photos of “The Johnny Winter Story”.
The classic ’50’s and ’60’s Telecasters conjure up images of early Rock & Roll and Country music. The ’50’s Tele has an ash body, vintage ’50’s pickups and optional gold hardware, The ’60’s Telecaster Custom has a alder body, bound top and back, Texas Tele pickups, plus gold hardware and custom color options. These models will honk and talk with the best of them.
National Steel Standard Johnny’s favourite guitar for slide/bottleneck work, first shown on the “Progressive Blues Experiment”.
Judging from the covers of his albums he played a National tricone model on The Progressive Blues Experiment and Nothin’ But The Blues and a National (Duolian?) single cone model on Third Degree.
As a former pro who loves to play National guitars, I’d like to comment on the references to Johhny’s Nationals in the biol. On Progressive Blues Experiment, despite the beautiful cover picture of the Style 1 Tricone, he’s probably playing a single-cone Duolian (or maybe a very well-set-up Style O), and likely plays it on most of his acoustic slide recordings. The single-cone guitar has a less complex, more direct sound, than the Tricone, and is better for Blues slide. In addition, other National players I know have had the same impression from hearing his acoustic slide work. An interesting aside to this is that he may be using a blend of a pickup and a microphone when recording with his National – it’s hard to believe that just a microphone could get the present, “in-your-face” sound he gets with that guitar. Almost lastly, I believe that there is a poster circulating out there with either the Duolian or Style O Johnny plays on his records – I seem to recall seeing it somewhere, sometime over the last 10 years. I think it was part of a promotion for one of his later albums.
Ricone Roundneck and Squareneck Metalbody guitars, 1927-1942. German silver body (solid nickel alloy with nickel plating), three or “tri” resonator cones with two cones on the bass side, one cone on the treble side, T-shaped bridge cover and handrest, grid pattern soundholes on upper body, Hawaiian squareneck or Spanish roundneck styles, 12 frets clear of the body, flat fingerboard radius, mahogany neck on Spanish model, metal neck with mahagony headstock on Hawaiian model, bound single layer ebony fingerboard, slotted peghead.
Some very nice pictures of the “National 938 Model 97 Tricone Squareneck” can be found at MANDOLIN BROTHERS
Erlewine Lazer used by Johnny since the 1990’s
Actually Johnny’s first Lazer was not made by Mark Erlewine. It was a korean made Lazer by IMC/Hondo. He used this guitar at least in Guitar Slinger and Serious Business (in the cover). He made a couple modifications though. At least pickups were changed and propably the bridge too.
With a groovy rhythm section 48 years old Winter shows who is allowed to call himself the true master of the six (and sometimes twelve) strings,
POINTBLANK #86512 Released:1992
Produced by Johnny Winter and Dick Shurman
Engineered and mixed by Justin Niebank
Recorded at Streetville Studios, Chicago, Illinois
Executive Producer, Bruce Iglauer
Cover design by Chris Garland/XENO Cover photo by Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve
Back cover photos by Dave Grundtvig and Susan Mattes Mastered by Ten Jensen at Sterling Sound, New York, N.Y. Special thanks to John Wolfe, Rick Kreher, Bill Dahl, Joe Miranda, Kevin Geores, Bill Wokersin, Mindy Giles, Hilton Weinberg, Jay Whitehouse, Nora Kinnally, Lolita Ratchford, Lisa Shively, Sharron Scott and Eric Charles.
Illinois in May and July, 1992.
I REALLY LIKE THIS RECORD. Its got a lot of different kinds of blues on it, more variety First, there’s Casey, Johnny and Ken. To me, these guys are the cream of the crop as far as blues today They can play everything. They’re always challenging, too. They’re right in the pocket, and make me want to play better, Then, there’s Dr John. Mac is someone I’ve known since the early 60’s, and I’ve wanted to record with him for quite a while. He’s got that New Orleans flavor that nobody else can do. He knows a lot of great old songs that I don’t know which is excellent, because he comes up with songs that 1 have a good time playing!
Our musical roots are so similar that we mesh real well … I hope we can work together more in the future. A lot of my fans and friends have been asking me when I was gonna do some more acoustic stuff I think we got a couple of very race ones on this album. Actually, I was never interested in playing acoustic guitar until l discovered those metal Nationals back in ’68 I fell in love with that nasty sound .. it reminds me of a garbage can with wire on it. It’s got all that metal ring to it, a real bluesy sound. On this album, I used two different Nationals, an old one for all the slide stuff and a newer one for the fretting.
I had to practice for about a month before we made the record because they’re much harder to play than an electric guitar, and I don’t playa acoustic on the road. It’s a challenge to play, but it’s worth it, because before there was electricity, guitars like this were all blues musicians had. And if you can’t do it-if you have to have an electric guitar to play the blues-it’s not a good feeling I had to be able to master that guitar I had dreamed about playing with Tommy and Red again ever since we broke up back in 1970, because I don’t think any of us really ever wanted that band to break up. I don’t feel like I could have made it without them in the first place.
They were the first musicians ever to come to me and say, “We love what you do. We don’t care if we make any money, we’re willing to do straight blues, whether we make it or not” It was the first time I ever had a straight blues band-up to that point I had to play soul music, 7bp 40, Beatles music, a little bit of everything. I said they were crazy-we’d starve to death for sure playing nothing but blues. In about six months we did starve. Red’s mother had a beauty shop, and we practiced at the beauty shop after hours late at night. Red stayed in the extra room, and Tommy slept on the couch.
And those guys, if they hadn’t done that, nobody would ever have heard of me or known that 1 was a blues guitar player. It was such a good feeling when we finally did make it playing straight blues. There was a feeling we had when we played together, because we cared so much about each other, and the music. It felt great to work with those guys, and it still does. To get together in the studio again after 15 or 16 years … and I feel like we played better on this record than we did back in Texas!!
It was really a dream come true to be able to work together again and show everybody we still got it. It just makes a lot of difference when you love the guys you’re playing with-it’s just bound to come out in the music.
HiFi VISION Jan 1993:
With a groovy rhythm section 48 years old Winter shows who is allowed to call himself the true master of the six (and sometimes twelve) strings amongst the white blues musicians. With his play, aggressive as usual, and his sharp vocals Winter brings pastime and a whole lot of surprise elements.
Dirty Linen April/May 1993 by Shelton Clark
In answer to the title/question of Winter’s album, his brother (singer/organist/saxophonist Edgar) does appear on three of the album cuts, most notably the vocal duet “Please Come Home for Christmas.” Guitar aficionados unfamiliar with Winter’s work will hear how he influenced fellow Texan Stevie Ray Vaughan, with his raw tone and interplay with his rhythm section. “Johnny Guitar” is the first track, and the rest of the album lives up to that moniker.
All Music Guide , Volume: 1 , # 1 by Roch Parisien Rated: 2
On the classic, 1972 live album Roadwork, Edgar Winter immortalized the words (at least for my group of friends that wore the grooves off the record), 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 “hey, where’s your brother?” 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. Like last year’s Let Me In, Winter’s latest deftly combines the bluesy rock he made famous in the 70s with his 80s forays into more traditional styles. The power trio he forms with bassist Jeff Ganz and drummer Tom Compton is equally at home on scorchers like You Must Have A Twin and lowdown numbers like I Got My Brand On You. The highlight, however is White Line Blues, where Winter unleashes one of his best ever “the notes you don’t play are as important as those you do play” solos.
Texas Blues Magazine – February 1993
Hey Where’s your Brother? is the title of the new Johnny Winter album, coming from the Pointblank label. It is the follow-up album to Johnny’s Grammy-nominated and critically-acclaimed Pointblank debut, Let Me In.
On this collection of 14 killer tracks, Johnny is supported by regular band members Jeff Ganz (bass) and Tom Compton (drums and percussion), with guest appearances by harmonica player Billy Branch, and younger brother Edgar Winter on vocals, sax and organ on three songs: “You Keep Leavin’,” “Sick And Tired,” and a special holiday number, “Please Come Home For Christmas.” (Indeed, the album title refers to a question frequently yelled at the stage during Johnny’s live performances from fans hoping for a surprise visit from Edgar!) As with Let Me In, the album was produced by Dick Shurman and Johnny Winter and recorded in Chicago.
The album’s lead-off track, “Johnny Guitar,” with its rootsy feel, blistering guitar and emotionally-charged vocals, not only sets the tone for all the music to follow – it will be the first track released to album radio. Other key tracks include “You Must Have A Twin,” “Blues This Bad,” and “Treat Me Like You Wanna.” A major US and Canadian tour is currently in progress.
Born in Beaumont, Texas on February 23, 1944, John Dawson Winter III grew up surrounded by the blues, country and cajun music. His brother Edgar was born three years later and the two showed an inclination toward music at an early age. As Johnny told Down Beat magazine, “We sang regularly, because Daddy loved to sing harmony. He sang in a barbershop quartet and in a church choir, so Edgar and I started singing as soon as we were born, almost.” Johnny began playing clarinet at age five and switched to ukulele a few years later. Johnny and Edgar began performing as a duet in an Everly Brothers vein, winning talent contests and appearing on local television shows. When Johnny was 11, the Winter Brothers traveled to New York to audition for Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour.” Soon after their first exposure to rock ‘n roll came through the music of Little Richard, Fats Domino, Carl Perkins and early Elvis Presley. They also began soaking up the sound of rhythm and blues from DJ Clarence Garlow’s “Bon Ton Show” on KJET radio in Beaumont. At age 14, Johnny organized his first band, Johnny & The Jammers, with brother Edgar on piano. A year later, they cut two songs at Bill Hall’s Gulf Coast Recording Studios in Beaumont. The single “School Day Blues” b/w “You Know I Love You” came out a month later on Houston-based Dart Records, gaining The Winter Brothers some local notoriety.
Around this time, Johnny began sitting in with DJ Clarence Garlow, who also performed around town and had a regional hit with “Bon Ton Roule.” Johnny also frequented the Beaumont’s all-black Raven Club, where the aspiring blues guitarist got to see such heroes as Muddy Waters , B.B. King and Bobby Bland for the first time.
Johnny Winter’s “Third Degree” was recored and released in 1986, in the beginning of 1987 Johnny Winter Tours in Europe (together with Dr John The NightTripper to promote this album.
Sonet Records SNTF 965 (1986)
Johnny’s back with a hot and heavy batch of blues, featuring guests Dr. John, plus Tommy Shannon and Uncle John Turner (the original Johnny Winter trio from Texas) plus two solo songs with Johnny on National steel guitar! Johnny’s most varied Alligator album, from pure Delta blues to rockin’ boogies. A real scorcher!
“Unparalleled fired-up energy, immaculate choice of material, marvelous acoustic National Steel guitar…gutsy, churning blues” – Blues & Rhythm
I REALLY LIKE THIS RECORD. It’s got a lot of different kinds of blues on it, more variety.
First, there’s Casey, Johnny and Ken.. To me, these guys are the cream of the crop as far as blues today. They can play everything. They’re always challenging,too. They’re right in the pocket, and make me want to play better.
Then, there’s Dr. John. Mac is someone I’ve known since the early ’60s, and I’ve wanted to record with him for quite a while. He’s got that New Orleans flavor that nobody else can do. He knows a lot of great old songs that I don’t know, which is excellent because he comes up with songs that I have a good time playing! Our musical roots are so similar that we mesh real well. I hope we can work together more in the future.
A lot of my fans and friends have been asking me when I was gonna do some more acoustic stuff. I think we got a couple of very nice ones on this album. Actually, I was never interested in playing acoustic guitar until I discovered those metal Nationals back in ’68. I fell in love with that nasty sound. It reminds me of a garbage can with wire on it. It’s got all that metal ring to it, a real bluesy sound. On this album, I used two different Nationals, an old one for all the slide stuff and a newer one for the fretting. I had to practice for about a month before we made the record because they’re much harder to play than an electric guitar and I don’t play an acoustic on the road. It’s a challenge to play, but it’s worth it, because before there was electricity guitars like this were all blues musicians had. And if you can’t do it, if you have to have an electric guitar to play the blues, it’s not a good feeling. I had to be able to master that guitar.
I had dreamed about playing with Tommy and Red again ever since we broke up back in 1970 because I don’t think any of us really ever wanted that band to break up I don’t feel like I could have made it without them in the first place. They were the first musicians ever to come to me and say, “We love what you do. We don’t care if we make any money, we’re willing to do straight blues, whether we make it or not.” It was the first time I ever had a straight blues band. Up to that point, I had to play soul music — Top 40, Beatles music, a little bit of everything. I said they were crazy we’d starve to death for sure playing nothing but blues.
In about six months we did starve. Red’s mother had a beauty shop, and we practiced at the beauty shop after hours late at night. Red stayed in the extra room, and Tommy slept on the couch. And those guys, if they hadn’t done that, nobody would ever have heard of me or known that I was a blues guitar player. It was such a good feeling when we finalIy did make it playing straight blues. There was a feeling we had when we played together because we cared so much about each other and the music. It felt great to work with those guys and it still does. To get together in the studio again after 15 or 16 years … and I feel like we played better on this record than we did back in Texas! It was really a dream come true to be able to work together again and show everybody we still got it.
“It makes a lot of difference when you love the guys you’re playing with–it’s just bound to come out in the music.”
It was the first time these two had worked together in the studio, and Dr. John’s distinctive piano playing adds a New Orleans flavor to Winter’s roadhouse blues. Three of the cuts join Winter with the trio responsible for his two Grammy-nominated Alligator works, Guitar Slinger and Serious Business. The band, comprised of Ken Saydak on piano, Johnny B. Gayden on bass and Casey Jones on drums was, according to Winter, ”the cream of the crop as far as blues players today”. Third Degree confirmed Johnny Winter’s presence on the list of top guitarists in the world.
5 April 1973 New York Times reviews “Still Alive and Well”
Winter’s Lean Rock
Johnny Winter has survived much in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, not the least his arrival from Texas some years ago as the new Rock Messiah, genius guitarist and blues singer. Much money was paid to him for his recording contract, much publicity was made out of the fact that he was a long haired albino, also cross-eyed. His recording debut was delayed but the interest was sustained. Naturally the expectations “hype” (hyperbole) is the industy word — far exceeded what ordinary mortals could provide and Mr. Winter spent the next few years trying to present a more reasonable picture of himself to the public. His new album, “Still Alive and Well (Columbia KC 32188, $5.98), may be it.
Mr. Winter, who plays stripped-down rock, with a strong facing of the blues, is accompanied mainly by a guitar and drums. The album is characterized by a nervous drive as in, for example, the veteran blues song “Rock Me Mama,” which is overladen with so much energy, or perhaps tension, that any relaxation is lost. Mr. Winter may also be the first on the block with a traditional sounding blues about seconal, downers “Too Much Seconal.” The high whining, sliding guitar style (Mr. Winter still has his roots fixed in the Texas environment) urgent vocals and simplicity of operation take the listener back to one of rock’s better periods, the late nineteen-sixties. He has moved neither back-ward nor forward. He may have resolved things for himself with his music and provided us with an instant Nostalgia album. IAN DOVE
Cash Box 31 Mar 1973:
Johnny’s first LP in two years is basically a trio effort as he’s assisted by Randy Jo Hobbs on bass and the drums of Richard Hughes. Rick Derringer, who also produced, guests on three tracks (slide, pedal steel and electric); cameos also from Todd Rundgren’s mellotron and Jeremy Steig’s flute. The affinity that the Texas-born guitar/vocalist has for Jagger and Richard material start and ends side two with “Silver Train” and a strong rendering of “Let it bleed” respectively. The countrified “Ain’t nothing to me” is also impressive. He’s still in the forefront of bluesrock – and for good reason.
Still Alive and Well Johnny Winter
BY TONY GLOVER
Yes, he-is. In this long-awaited return album, Johnny Winter takes up where he left off. His fingers are fleet and sure as ever, his vocals have bite and growl, and the flash and power of yore are hanging right in there.
Winter wrote two of the ten tracks, most are more rock than heavily blues oriented, and all feature , bassman Randy Jo Hobbs and drummer Richard Hughes. Producer and former guitar partner Rick Derringer is heard on a few tracks, as are various keyboards here and there – but the basic sound is power trio. Technical advice on the LP is credited to Bill Szymczyk, who also produced B.B. King’s Alive And Well album, as well as the J. Geils Band and the James Gang.
The bluesiest cuts are the. standard “Rock Me Baby,” done here with a sinuous riff and plenty of punch, and the acoustic “Too Much Seconal,” a Winter original. Johnny plays National Steel and mandolin on this track, which also features the frenetic flute of Jeremy Steig-it’s a burnt-out woman blues in the old tradition, but modernized a bit by choice of pharmaceuticals.
“Can’t You Feel It” was written by Dan Hartman, from Brother Edgar’s group – predictably it’s a straight ahead rocker; “Outside your window baby, trying to get in,/ My love for you goes deeper than sin.” It matches up nicely with Johnny’s other original, “Rock & Roll” (“You can’t keep me, gotta use me while you can”), which features some electrifying slide work.
The two sidestep numbers on the album are “Cheap Tequila,” a modish ballad by Derringer. Production includes Todd Rundgren on mellotren, but overall feel is nice-it’s good to hear a less raspy vocal tone. “Ain’t Nothing to Me” is a fine, double-tough C&W bar song. Johnny shows off another side of his Texas roots with a good vocal, and Derringer adds nice work on pedal steel.
We get a double taste of the Stones with two numbers. One is the new “Silver Train,” reportedly written for Johnny. With swirling guitars, rippling piano and buried vocals, it has a definite Exile sound, and Johnny sounds more like Jagger in phrasing and pronunciation than himself. A good, rocking track, with “Paint It Black”-styled Eastern over-tones. Some find it touched with smack references; to me it sounds like a hit single.
“Still Alive and Well” is a shock-of-recognition move. The song was first heard on White Trash’s Roadwork album, and speculation was rife that Derringer had done it with Johnny strongly in mind. Here Johnny makes it a vital and personal statement with as much power and self-assertive cool as Muddy Waters had in ” Hoochie-Coochie Man. ”
The album closes with an appropriately leering rendition of the Stones’ “Let It Bleed,” once again featuring the crystal-glass-chandelier-like lightning slide guitar work and a strutting vocal. At the end of the take Johnny asks, “Goddamnit, did that get it, or what? ”
It did. Welcome back man, nice to see a survivor.
Circus Jun 1973: Johnny Winter – Still Alive and Well – Columbia Records
Johnny Winter has the kind of voice and guitar sound you either hate or love . . . I happen to hate it. The gravelly vocal tones bear such a resemblance to genuine suffering that I often worry if he is actually in pain. The guitar-work, though both fast and competent, seems without inspiration. But again, this is all a matter of opinion; and after all the fans Winters’ built up over the years. I’m sure it’s my ears that are pasted on backwards.
Side one opens with another version of “Rock Me Baby,” but the first, last and only version I ever liked was the Jeff Beck Group version … only because it cooked instead of trundled along with bulldozer heaviness.
The album is produced by ex-Mc-Coy, ex-White Trasher Rick Derringer. Derringer’s “Cheap Tequila” is probably the most interesting track on the record. Quieter and more melodious than usual, Winter’s voice isn’t nearly as grating.
Most annoying to me is the lack of imagination. It’s all been done before, the same old rock and roll riffs, from the Allman’s to Ten Years After, John Mayall and Savoy Brown. Doesn’t it ever change? Music is supposed to be growing up a little . . . but this album just seems stagnant.
The second most annoying thing is the lack of original material. Winter has the reputation for being the great American rock and roll innovator. Why, then, is he rehashing material that’s been done a hundred times before?
With all the truly original stuff around, this sounds like one great step backwards for American rock and roll. Sorry, Johnny Winter fans … if you love him, you’ll go out and buy it anyway . . . right?
ROLLING STONE ALBUM GUIDE: ***1/2
Winter bounced back from a bout with hard drugs on the snarlingly sober ‘Still Alive and Well’ – the title track and “Too Much Seconal” apply a stinging cold slap in the face.
To those of us who, for all of these years, or even for just weeks, have
wondered about the identity of the songwriter who penned, “All Tore Down,” which is on the Still Alive and Well record, You will now become informed as to who J. Crane was: The late Joe Crane was in a fabulous band from Berkeley, CA. The band’s name was, The Hoodoo Rhythm Devils. They were an exciting and important element of the San Francisco Bay Area scene in the very early 1970s. I have no clue as to whether or not our main man, Johnny, knew Joe Crane, or the band. Perhaps Uncle John Turner could enlighten us in that regard. Joe left the planet in the mid 1970s. He died from a neurological disease…maybe multiple sclerosis, or similar.
I have heard from friends who were in on that scene, that Joe was not only a prolific songwriter, but also was a masterful guitarist, as well as a swell fella. I love Johnny’s rendition of that song, but to truly appreciate the piece, one must also hear the original. I do not have any of their records, but the famous KSAN radio station played the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils as often as they played Little Feat, whose approach to the swampland was similar, and that exposure made an indelible impression on my soul. Another very groovy reference to The Hoodoo Rhythm Devils, is evident on Thin Lizzy’s record, “Johnny The Fox.” On the song, “Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed,” The late, great Phil Lyncott sings about “…groovin’ to the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils…” and also dedicates some interest in “…the voodoo music…”
If you have that record, you should give it a listen. A connection between Johnny, Phil, and Joe exists, albeit metaphysical. I believe that the title to one record by the Devils, is “Too Hot to Handle (Boogie Too Much)” Check it out! I thank Johnny for covering, “All Tore Down”. I think that he is the artist who could do it the most justice, so to say. Whirled peas and hominy, Jumpin’ Jimmy
Chart Peak: #22
Weeks Charted: 24
Yes, he is. In this long-awaited return album, Johnny Winter takes up where he left off. His fingers are fleet and sure as ever, his vocals have bite and growl, and the flash and power of yore are hanging right in there.
Winter wrote two of the ten tracks, most are more rock than heavily blues oriented, and all feature bassman Randy Jo Hobbs and drummer Richard Hughes. Producer and former guitar partner Rick Derringer is heard on a few tracks, as are various keyboards here and there — but the basic sound is power trio. Technical advice on the LP is credited to Bill Szymczyk, who also produced B.B. King’s Alive And Well album, as well as the J. Geils Band and the James Gang.
The bluesiest cuts are the standard “Rock Me Baby,” done here with a sinuous riff and plenty of punch, and the acoustic “Too Much Seconal,” a Winter original. Johnny plays National Steel and mandolin on this track, which also features the frantic flute of Jeremy Steig — it’s a burnt-out-woman blues in the old tradition, but modernized a bit by choice of pharmaceuticals.
“Can’t You Feel It” was written by Dan Hartman, from Brother Edgar’s group — predictably it’s a straight ahead rocker; “Outside your window baby, tryin to get in,/My love for you goes deeper than sin.” It matches up nicely with Johnny’s other original, “Rock & Roll” (“You can’t keep me, gotta use me while you can”), which features some electrifying slide work.
The two sidestep numbers on the album are “Cheap Tequila,” a modish ballad by Derringer. Production includes Todd Rundgren on mellotron, but overall feel is nice — it’s good to hear a less raspy vocal tone. “Ain’t Nothing to Me” is a fine, double-tough C&W bar song. Johnny shows off another side of his Texas roots with a good vocal, and Derringer adds nice work on pedal steel.
We get a double taste of the Stones with two numbers. One is the new “Silver Train,” reportedly written for Johnny. With swirling guitars, rippling piano and buried vocals, it has a definite Exile sound, and Johnny sounds more like Jagger in phrasing and pronunciation than himself. A good, rocking track, with “Paint It Black”-styled Eastern overtones. Some find it touched with smack references; to me it sounds like a hit single.
“Still Alive and Well” is a shock-of-recognition move. The song was first heard on White Trash’s Roadwork album, and speculation was rife that Derringer had done it with Johnny strongly in mind. Here Johnny makes it a vital and personal statement with as much power and self-assertive cool as Muddy Waters had in “Hoochie-Coochie Man.”
The album closes with an appropriately leering rendition of the Stones’ “Let It Bleed,” once again featuring the crystal-glass-chandelier-like lightning slide guitar work and a strutting vocal. At the end of the take Johnny asks, “Goddamnit, did that get it, or what?”
It did. Welcome back man, nice to see a survivor
Tony Glover, Rolling Stone, 5/10/73
A great album by an extreemly well rounded player. Johnny has many influences and you can hear it on this CD. As others have pointed out this CD is a little more weighted on the rock side of the blues-rock equation that Winters’ music is most often described as. Short and sweet…this would have to make the top 20 of best rock&roll albums of all time. If your a guitar player–or just someone who loves guitar–then this is a MUST HAVE!!
This is the best studio cd that johnny winter put out.More rock than most of his cds,this has the classic song still alive and well along with rock me baby.If your looking for Johnny playing the blues you might want to try winter of 88.They have added an extra track that wasnt on the tape,from the buicksix which is also a great song.This is a good cd for those looking for a good rockin johnny cd.
After taking a year off to cure a heroin addiction, Johnny Winter came back with his best album ever. STILL ALIVE AND WELL mixes white-hot Texas boogie with cautionary lyrics that tell of survival and could warn people off the trail of any addiction (drugs, alcohol, tobacco, food, etc.). Mentioning highlights is pointless, as STILL ALIVE AND WELL sholud be listened to as acomplete album.
Sounds Magazine (Germany) Review
JOHNNY WINTER STILL ALIVE AND WELL CBS 65484 Seit Johnny Winters letzte Studio-produktion AND erschien, ist soviel Zeit vergangen, daß diese LP fast schon als historisch zu bezeichnen ist. Eine Menge ist seither passiert; Johnny begab sich in ausgiebige ärztliche Behandlung, weil Drogen ihm Geist und Körper zu ruinieren drohten. Bruder Edgar machte fleißig Karriere und sorgte dafür, daß der Name Winter nicht aus dem Blickfeld verschwand. Nun aber ist Johnny wieder da, gut erholt. Er hat in der langen Pause zwar nichts dazu gelernt, aber zum Glück auch nichts vergessen. Sein kerniger Blues-Rock klingt noch ge- nauso unverbraucht wie früher. Johnny rockt gleich im ersten Titel, Big Bill Broonzys “Rock Me Baby”, mächtig los und zieht sodann die gesamte LP mit gleichbleibender Energie durch. Es kocht höllisch, wenn er seine Gitarre sprechen läßt, aber es verbrennt nichts zu Abfall, sondern die Musik wird dadurch eher noch bekömmlicher. Das gilt nicht nur für die reinen Rock-Stücke, sondern auch für die vom Schema abweichenden Nummern, wie beispielsweise “CheapTequila” von Rick Derringer . Besonderen Spaß hat man an den beiden Jagger/Richard-Kompositionen “Silver Train” und “Let It Bleed”, von denen auch bereits letztere von den Stones veröffentlich wurde. Winters Bearbeitungen beweisen einmal mehr, daß er auch Material anderer Komponisten zu s e i n e r Musik machen kann. Überhaupt hat er diesmal viel fremde Kompositionen verwendet und nur zwei Stücke selbst geschrieben, was vielleicht als letzter Hinweis auf seine überstandene Schwächeperiode verstanden sein will.
Johnny Winter Zu seinen Begleitmusikern ist diesmal nicht viel zu sagen. Bassist Randy Hobbs ist bereits seit AND dabei. Er scheint mir allerdings flüssiger zu spielen als früher. Drummer Richard Hughes ist zuverlässig, jedoch nicht besonders auffällig. Ansonsten helfen Rick Derringer, der das Album auch produzierte, Todd Rundgren, Mark Klingman und Jeremy Steig hier und da etwas aus. Bemerkanswertes bietet sie nicht, nur Steig hat ein schönes Flötensolo in “Too Much Secononal”. Die bei weitem wichtigste Erkanntnis dieser LP: Johnny Winter is still alive and well.
Hans Jürgen Günther
9 June 1973 The Hartford Courant , by J. Greg Robertson
Still Alive and Well (Columbia KC 32188) by Johnny Winter is quite a jump from the saccarine McCartney theme, but it has its own problem. It’s a problem — like that or the J. Geils Band and John Kay reviewed late — that is hard to put a finger on. They are each acceptable albums, but the extra spark we have hear learned to expect from these performers is missing this time. “Still Alive and Well” refers to Johnny Winter’s late absence, reportedly due to a medical problem, When he burst on the national rock scene in the late 60s, Johnny was playing blazing blues guitar and singing let-it-all-hang-out vocals. He still is, but
There are three or four definite winners on this album, out of 10 cuts. “Rock me Baby” has the tight, punchy feel and nearly inimitable Winter flair: heavy, fast, repeated blues guitar flourishes, with some wailing, moaning solos. Except now it’s more rock than blues. “Let It Bleed,” which seems to be getting the most airplay, is a good example of the nastiness Johnny likes to imply. But “Silver Train,” another Mick Jagger-Keith Richard composition, is nowhere near as successful. The title tune, “Still Alive and Well,” is suitably frantic but lacks some cohesion, also, it’s kind of disappointing that such an important testament wasn’t even written by Winter.
“Too Much Seconal” was written by Johnny, and features him on mandolin and Jeremy Steig on flute, but it too is a little too loose. “All Tore Down” will be best remembered for a good guitar solo. “Cheap Tequila” and “Can’t You Feel It” are adequate.
We know he’s alive and well, but his fans can still hope Johnny Winter gets better.
Transcript of the official German Press Release
Er lebt noch . . . und wie!
Nach seiner Deutschland-Tournee im Frühjahr 1971 war es etwas still um den Albino-Gitarristen geworden. Zwei Jahre lang hatte er sich aus
persönlichen Gründen aus dem Show-Geschäft zurückgezogen. Diese Art innerer Emigration erwies sich als ausgesprochen fruchtbar: nunmehr
liegt seine neue Langspielplatte vor, ihr Titel konstatiert, was Johnny ist: still alive and well.
Winter, über den Kritiker schrieben, er sei “der einzig legitime Nachfolger von Jimi Hendrix”, war 1962 auf der Chicagoer Musikszene aufgetaucht. Den aus Beaumont‚ Texas, stammenden klapperdürren Albino mit dem Silberblick zog’ s ins Blues-Mekka. Nachdem er zunächst mit Bruder Edgar als “lt And Them” (später in “Johnny Winter And The Black Plague” umbenannt) aufgetreten war, gastierte er kurze Zeit später in Mike Bloomfield’ s Fickle Pickle. Im Dezember 1968 brachte ein Rolling Stone-Artikel alles ins Rollen. Tiny Tim-Entdecker Steve Paul holte ihn nach New York. An einem Morgen, um 2. 00 Uhr, lief im Fillmore East eine Supersession mit Hendrix‚ Stills, Bloomfield und Winter. Billboard schrieb danach: “Johnny ist das heißeste Rock-Phänomen seit Bob Dylan. Das bereitwillige Publikum wird förmlich zur kompletten Kapitulation getrieben, wenn der weiße Blues-Satan seine betäubende, hinreissende Show abzieht.
Der weißblonde Magier sorgte nicht nur für Explosion auf der Bühne,’ sein erstes Album “Johnny Winter” (eine Art Sammlung von Delta-Blues-Stücken) bewies das. Nach “Second Winter” (ein Doppelalbum, von dem kurioserweise eine Seite leer blieb) erschien “Johnny Winter And”, eine Aufnahme, die Johnny mit den Ex-McCoys (“Hang On Sloopy” . . .) einspielte und seine Entwicklung vom Blues zum Rock beschleunigte.
Johnny Winter Live” war dann der einstweilige Schlußpunkt, dem jetzt sein jüngstes Plattenopus “Still Alive And Well” (Besetzung: neben Johnny
Randy Jo Hobbs‚ bass‚ Richard Hughes‚ drums) folgt.
Daß Johnny Winter seinen Anspruch auf Superstar-Popularität aufgeben würde, war ohnehin nicht anzunehmen. Der platinblonde Gitarren-König hat sich die Krone wieder aufgesetzt. Sie gebührt ihm sowieso
Aktuelle LP: CBS 65 484 “Still Alive And Well” 7303
“Serious Business” gives you more of what made Guitar Slinger one of the best sellers in Alligator history – searing blues guitar, raw vocals, and the rampaging Winter attack. No horns, no background vocals, no strings, no synthesizers. Just Winter all the way! Includes “Master Mechanic”, “Route 90”. Nominated for a Grammy.
Nach mehr als drei Jahren Aufnahme-Abstinenz wieder zurück auf Rillen: Texas-Mann Johnny Winter, der seinen Blues in Beaumont bei Clarence Garlow von der Pike auf lernte, u. a. bei Muddy Waters’ letzten vier Alben mitwirkte und auch zusammen mit Big Walter Norton, James Cotton und Willie Dixon Platten einspielte.
Abgesehen von Roy Buchanan ist er unzweifelhaft der beste weiße Bluesgitarrist im urbanen Stil, den es heute gibt, (bei Winter kann sich z. 8. Eric Clapton gewaltige Scheiben abschneiden, wenn er Blues spielt). Abgesehen von Ausflügen in die Rock-Szene wie mit Bruder Edgar (wobei er auch dort immer äußerst bluesig aber größer musizierte) blieb Johnny immer in die Blues-Szene integriert.
Er hat den Blues nie verlassen. Im Teenager-Alter kam er nach den Lehrjahren bei Garlow nach Chicago. Ende der sechziger Jahre war er dann wieder in Houston, Texas, zu finden, und in den Clubs im Süden sowie in den Platten-studios machte er sich nochmal einen Namen unter dem Pseudonym Texas Guitar Slim.
Die vorliegenden beiden Alben entstanden 1984/85 zusammen mit den Produzenten Bruce Iglauer und Dick Shurman. Johnny Winter mit seiner brettartigen E-Gitarre spielt darauf so viele unglaublich gute Soli, daß man einfach hingerissen ist. Er beherrscht “licks”, die ihm viele bereits nachmachen, seine Ziehtöne gehen durch Mark und Bein, und er ist ein Meister der Slide-Spielweise. Auch seine rauhe Stimme, die er stets mit vollem Einsatz zu Gehör bringt, steht seinem Instrument in nichts nach, sein Timing, Feeling sind echt, ursprünglich. Er ist trotz seiner schlohweißen Haare und seiner (tätowierten) Albino-Haut “schwärzer” als so mancher Farbige und etlichen von ihnen gitarristisch uberlegen. Er fühlt und denkt wie sie — er ist unter ihnen aufgewachsen, sofem die Infor-mationen des Rezensenten stimmen.
Mit dem weißen Keyboarder Ken Saydak, Bassist Johnny B. Gayden und Drummer Casey Jones (zu denen noch einige Gäste hinzustoßen), hat Johnny Winter auf beiden Alligator-Alben eine Rhythmus-Crew zur Hand, die in der bewährten Güte und Präzision ihres Spiels zum Besten zählt, was der moderne Blues aufbieten kann. Zusammen mit ihnen zieht er alle Register innerhalb urbaner Blues-Stile von Texas bis Chicago, von Soul bis Funk. Beide Platten sind in ihrer Art gleich gut — auf der ersteren gibt es besagte Gäste, bei der zweiten stößt nur Harpspieler Jon Paris hinzu. Zwei Stücke der ersten LP wurden mit der Bläser-Section “The Mellow Fellow Horns” aufgenommen, die Gene Barge arrangierte. Auf “Guitar Slinger” reicht Winters Palette vom Langsamen “I smell trouble” bis zur elementaren, elektrisierenden Wildheit von “Mad dog”.
Dazwischen liegen alle anderen Dimensionen seines Spiels von bewundernswerter Vielseitigkeit: In “It’s my life …”,,,My soul” und Muddy Waters’ “lodine (mit Billy Branchs Harp) bestaunt man die Bandbreite seiner Slide-Gitarre, im lässig-schleppenden “Boot hill” läßt er sein kreischendes Instrument im “screaming Texas shuffle style” dröhnen, “Lights out” (mit Bargers rotzigem Sax) und “Don’t take advantage . . .” sind fetzig-rockende Titel, das stürmische “Trick bag” ist aufregend “funky”, und beim “Tränendrüsen”-Stück “Kiss tomorrow . . .” legt er seine “southem soul” bloß, wobei er eine romantisch-schöne Gitarren-Exhibition zupft, was in reizvollem Kontrast zu seinem harschen Organ steht (vielleicht ist diese Einspielung nicht so sehr nach dem Geschmack mancher Blues-Puristen).
Ist “Guitar Stinger” musikalisch vielseitiger, so wirkt “Serlous Business” aus der Sicht des Blues “purer”: Johnny Winters “wirbelsäulenzerbröselnde” Slide-Techniken und die anpassungs-fähige, heftige Harp von Jon Paris registriert man beim langsamen “Murdering Blues”, Winters Komposition “Good time woman”, “Unseen eye” und “Give me back”, extrem langsam und typisch texanisch geht’s zu bei “My time after awhile” (Johnnys Solo, stilistisch an den Texas-Tornado Albert Collins erinnernd, reißt garantiert jeden vom Stuhl!), bei “Master mechanic” funkt es kräftig, über schnellen, rockigen “beats” entfalten sich “Sound the bell” (diese Ziehtöne!) und “Serious . .” (wieder ein irres Gitarrensolo), der Boogie “rollt” in _lt ain’t your business”, und an Chuck Berry erinnert “Route 90” seines Lehrers Clarence Garlow, Zusammen mit der Sonny-Terry-LP “Whoopin— ist das ohne Zweifel “the best of Winter” — nicht mehr und nicht weniger. Mach’ weiter so, fellow! Willie Gschwendner
Johnny Winter’s album: “Second Winter” was originally released around October 1969 and reached Billboard position 55 on 6 December 1969.
Second Winter is also notorious for a gimmicky sales device. When the recording sessions were over, Johnny Winter had enough material for an album and a half; rather than add a side of filler, Columbia simply promoted the album as the world’s first three-sided album. (In a snarky review, Rolling Stone sarcastically gave the blank fourth side an in-depth discussion.) Unfortunately this was also the last album which Johnny Winter recorded with his original band: together with “Uncle” John Turner and Tommy Shannon
In 2004 Sony Legacy released the album “Second Winter” with two previously unreleased tracks as well as a second CD with the Johnny Winter performace Live at the Royal Albert Hall Concert in 1970
Some tracks for this album including: “Johnny B. Goode” and “I’m not sure” have been released as singles.
The review of Second Winter by Gros Ed, from 1970
Johnny Winter—”Second Winter” (Columbia KCS9947)
Some clutz on the “Prospector” staff lost one record of this two record set before I can tell you what I can from half album. In a stroke of cheapness, this 2-record set has only 3 sides (I got the record with one side). Winter is obviously a great talent on his guitar (although his singing is zilch) and he rocks his way the entire album, thrashing each song with fantastic riffs and deafening volume. He uses his wah-wah to an excess, but since he has no sloppy playing to hide, I can’t understand why. A b o u t 45 minutes worth of hard-driving, rocking, loud music by a damn good guitarist.
Second Winter – Brazilian Edition
Probable driven by the Market conditions in Brazil, Johnny Winter’s Second Winter, was released in Brazil as a single Mono-lp released (vs the two lp release in most other countries). Oddly enough Second Winter as released as “Johnny Winter in Brazil.
This Brazilian release of Second Winter (37679) contains the tracks:
I Love Everybody (Gosto de Todos)
Johnny B. Goode
Fast Life Rider (Cavaleiro Veloz)
Highway 61 Revisited (Rodovia 61)
Memory Pain (a dor de uma Lembranca)
The Good Love (Grand Amor)
Album: Second Winter Review by: Jan Williams
On October 1969, Second Winter was released with a song on it that hit like a bolt of lightning, “Memory Pain.” In it, Johnny’s voice weaves a web of ethereal longing and raw expressive bounce. He can tell the story of a man wronged by a woman with such dry wit and pathos that it becomes an art form.
It is a weird album since there are two records to it, but only three sides can be played. Inside the album there is a note signed by Johnny himself which explains why there are only three sides. “We went to Nashville to cut our new album. The original plan was to cut as much material as possible and pick the best of what was cut to make up a regular one-sided album. After we finished, we found out that if all the songs were used we might lose some volume if only one record were used. Since it was very important to us that our album be as loud as is technically possible, we had a problem. We had to cut everything that we wanted to and everything we had planned on doing and we didn’t have anything else that we really wanted to do. We also really liked everything we’d done and didn’t want to leave any of the songs out. We couldn’t honestly give you more, and we didn’t want to give you less, so here is exactly what we did in Nashville – no more and no less.” Then there is his glorious signature, even down to crossing his t and dotting his i.
This album has some variety – some rock, some blues, bottleneck guitar, heavy-hard rock, “Johnny B. Goode,” and a positively fierce interpretation of Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited.” The strange third side with its blank flip side are all Johnny songs – good, blunt Johnny Winter songs, hard-hitting and to the point, accompanied by his crackling guitar style and a voice that cries tough, plaintive one minute, brash the next. “I Love Everybody,” a horny song, “I Hate Everybody,” autobiographical, thumbing his nose at everybody, and “Fast Life Rider” are all songs which reflect his past and future. At the end, after the last song on the third side, comes a part which is also benefitted by the record being played as loud as is technically possible. All I can say is, HEAR IT, and LOUDLY – maybe with the headphones on.
With Johnny are the original band members of Winter (Uncle John Turner and Tommy Shannon), who came with Johnny from Texas, first recorded on Johnny Winter and now on Second Winter, with Edgar Winter helping out on both.
When Second Winter arrived the so called blues purists sounded off with a scream. Johnny’s reaction was, “People really do it to ya’ – put ya’ in a category and if you do something different – they get really pissed off. They say ‘look he’s sellin’ out,’ no matter what you do that you didn’t do before it’s selling’ out.” Unconcerned with the undeserved criticism from the blues purists, Johnny was comfortable and liked the loose approach. This album serves as what was to become signature music.
Bruce Vail reviews:
Second Winter is interesting for a number of reasons. According to Clive Davis, one of Johnny’s concerns before signing with CBS/Columbia in 1969 was the quality of studio equipment and musicians. This was a period when unions kept a lot of musicians or recording professionals off records, at least in the northeast studios. But the Nashville studio used by the label was “open” – so Johnny could bring in anyone he wanted. This contributed to (or confirmed), in part, Johnny’s decision to sign with Clive, and to use Nashville to record Second Winter there. (End note: the musician situation resolved itself by the seventies, so this is essentially a music business history lesson).
Another interesting point: Dennis Collins wrote “Good Love” and played bass on the song (ahem, replacing Tommy Shannon for a brief moment!). If I remember correctly, Collins previously wrote “Living In The Blues,” a fuzz box, pyschedelic-tinged blues rock number which Johnny recorded before signing with CBS/Columbia. I don’t know what happened to Collins since 1969, but his talent and relative success lead me to suspect he continued to write and play music for some time, albeit off our collective radar screens. I would love to know what’s happened since Second Winter.
A third point: Edgar was a functioning member in the studio band that produced Second Winter, at least according to the credits (and liner photo). His solo career would take off shortly, and his full time ties to Johnny Winter would end at that time. Thus, Second Winter represents the culmination of a collaborative period Johnny and Edgar have yet to repeat.
Finally, Second Winter marked the beginning of Johnny’s move toward rock and away from blues (hence, the Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, and Little Richard covers and other musical selections), apparently at the behest of management and label execs. Johnny would not return to the blues until “Nothing But The Blues” and “White Hot and Blue”, and would not return without interruption to the idiom on record until signing with Alligator in 1984, fifteen years after Second Winter.
In the text above, I referred to a union problem involving “musicians or recording professionals” as prompting, in part, Johnny’s decision to record Second Winter in Nashville. Thanks to a gentle suggestion from Uncle John, I have discovered that my recollection was erroneous on one, and possibly two, counts.
First, it appears that only recording professionals, particularly engineers, were involved in the “union” issue I recalled. Second, that issue may – or may not – have influenced Johnny’s decision to record in Nashville.
In researching this, I relied on Clive Davis autobiography [Clive Davis with James Willwerth, “Clive: Inside The Record Business,” (Morrow 1974)]. Mr. Davis is a wonderful man, with a stellar career spanning decades. He moved on to Arista after leaving CBS/Columbia, and I hope he remains involved in the music industry if he leaves Arista. His biography is “a good read.”
I also relied on Charlie Gillett’s “Sound of the City” and other rock encyclopedias. None of these sources, however, directly answer why Johnny Winter went to Nashville in 1969. There are, however, two possible explanations.
Explanation One – The CBS/Columbia “Studio Situation”
To understand the situation Johnny Winter faced in 1969, it is important to recall the state of the music industry then. Rock and roll may have originated, as a recognized genre, in the fifties, but a dominant music format throughout the fifties and sixties was traditional pop/easy listening. In fact, the “bread and butter” of CBS/Columbia’s roster for years included Mitch Miller, Andy Williams, Barbara
Streisand, Tony Bennett, Jerry Vale, Percy Faith, and Ray Conniff – not rock and rollers.
The rise of Elvis coincided with the slow decline of “middle of the road” music (MOR) in the fifties, and he recorded for the Sun and RCA labels. The Beatles, of course, slammed a nail on the MOR music coffin in the sixties, and they were on Capitol Records in the US. At that point, every major label wanted to record contemporary artists with credibility. Failure to do so meant declining revenues and the likelihood of being bought out by more successful enterprises.
Clive Davis astutely recognized this. When he joined CBS/Columbia in 1965, the label featured Broadway cast albums (20% of the label’s sales at one point), classical music performances, and the traditional pop artists mentioned above. The label’s contemporary roster included Bob Dylan, Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Byrds, and Simon & Garfunkel. The label also had a respected country music division in Nashville.
Davis responded to changing music trends by working to: (1) have “old guard” MOR artists record contemporary songs (i.e., by the Beatles, etc.); and (2) sign “young turk” acts with immediate appeal to the increasing youth demographic. Davis succeeded in the second category by signing Donovan, Janis Joplin, Santana (the group), Chicago, The Chambers Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Billy Joel, Electric Flag (featuring Mike Bloomfield and Buddy Miles), Laura Nyro, and others to either the Columbia label or a subsidiary. Many of the acts were visually flamboyant, musically challenging, and commercially successful.
Johnny Winter, of course, may be included in this list, and Edgar joined him (on a subsidiary, Epic) shortly thereafter.
CBS/Columbia, however, faced two major problems in the middle and late sixties. First, Columbia’s Artist & Repertoire (A & R) men were trained in and made their reputations on producing MOR and jazz, not rock and roll, and this prompted Davis (as head of the label’s A&R) to consider going to independent producers to get contemporary records as early as the mid-sixties. It is unclear when the label eliminated this problem, but it probably affected the company to a degree even in 1969.
CBS/Columbia, however, also faced a “studio situation.” The label owned its studios, and its engineers belonged to a union. The company and union had previously entered into a collective bargaining agreement which required that union engineers – and only union engineers – be present and work the boards at sessions involving CBS/Columbia artists, if those sessions took place in the studios themselves or in a neighboring area hundreds of miles away. (This agreement was actually less restrictive than the one before, which required that only Columbia studios could be used to record Columbia artists, but it was still a millstone around the company’s
neck in 1969.)
Other labels (e.g., Atlantic, Elektra, etc.) may have lacked adequate A&R staff, too, but they did not have a similar “studio problem.”RCA reportedly offered more money to Johnny than CBS/Columbia, but Johnny (represented by Steve Paul) apparently turned that company down, in part, because CBS/Columbia was willing to give him unprecedented artistic freedom and control in choosing songs, producing and packaging his albums, and recording his music.
In fact, Johnny addressed the “qualified producer” problem by deciding to produce his material himself. His years in the studios in the sixties provided him with the experience necessary to assume this responsibility. With respect to the “studio situation,” Clive Davis suggested that Johnny tour the label’s studios, and if he could not find one that was acceptable, Davis said Johnny was free to record in Texas, Florida, or any one of the thirty states where it was permissible to record freely.
If Tennessee was one of these “free” states, then that could explain why Johnny went to Nashville to produce and record his first release, Johnny Winter (1969), and why he returned there to do the same for Second Winter (1969). (A coda to the story is that CBS/Columbia and the union agreed to relax the rule creating the “studio situation” in 1972, prior to recording “Still Alive And Well” (1973)) When Clive Davis chose to include this in his autobiography, I initially assumed that this was, in fact, the reason why Johnny Winter went to Nashville.
Explanation Two – The Dylan Connection
CBS/Columbia, however, was one of the largest record companies extant in 1969. Nashville was the “capital” of country music in the south. The label had significant operations and used several facilities in the town because of this.
Bob Dylan was the premier contemporary artist on CBS/Columbia. On his double album, Blonde on Blonde, the credits reflect that recording was done in “CBS Studios, Nashville.” Dylan also recorded his next two albums (John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline) at studios in Nashville, which may also have been known as Columbia Music Row Studios. Importantly, the bulk of these recordings were recorded and released before Johnny Winter signed to the label.
The sound of Dylan’s work surprised many. One author said most fans never knew musicians in Nashville could sound so “stoned and bluesy.”
It is possible that the studios used by Dylan were only leased by CBS/Columbia, or that they otherwise circumvented the “studio situation” referred above. If so, Explanation One remains possible. This is impossible to verify without additional research, but silence on the part of Davis, Johnny, Steve Paul, and others is understandable even if this is true. Musicians are in a union, too, and even
those that felt no compunction against circumventing CBS/Columbia’s “studio situation” probably didn’t want the publicity associated with recording in a non-label studio for this reason.
Given the size of the label and Nashville’s importance in the music industry, however, it is more likely that “CBS Studios” were owned by the label. Thus, the question remains as to why Johnny chose to record there.
Several possibilities exist, but the most likely is that Johnny used the facility because he wanted the sound Dylan was getting. This is confirmed by looking at CBS/Columbia’s roster of the period. Of the acts listed above, Dylan, Janis Joplin (and Big Brother and the Holding Company), and Electric Flag were doing music closest to Johnny’s brand of blues and rock. Janis, of course, recorded a live
album for the label (Cheap Thrills), which offered no help from a studio perspective, and that just left Dylan and Electric Flag.
Bob Dylan, by contrast, clearly had Johnny’s ear, particularly with his Highway 61 Revisited album. Johnny would end up recording three Dylan tracks during his career – one of which appeared on Second Winter. It seems likely that Johnny decided to record in Nashville in an attempt to follow in the path being blazed by Bob Dylan, the leading artist on Johnny’s label
Johnny Winter is now pretty much the blues purist, but there was a time where he flirted with rock ‘n roll and didn’t do too badly at it, either. This is a white-hot stone killer of an album, with Winter and his band (including brother Edgar) roaring through 11 songs with style. My favorite is the last one, “Fast Life Rider,” about 8-or-so minutes of guitar rave-ups that never falter. Winter also does all right by Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” Little Richard and even “Johnny B. Goode,” which you never thought you’d want to hear again until you hear this incredible version. This is a Winter’s gale blowing full-blast!
Anyone who knows music,knows that there’s a point where, although you do your best to describe it,the music says lots more than your words ever will.You can compare the artist, the style, or whatever you want to others, but the music speaks for itself.This album is one of those cases…Although I’ve enjoyed this piece for nearly 30 years, it is still as enjoyable as when first released.The writing, the execution, the quality of the recording…..if you like this style of music, it’s hard to do better.Just buy it.
“Second Winter (CBS S-66231, DM 25,–) von Johnny Winter and seiner Band ist ein sehr spontanes Album, das ohne technische Tricks entstand, and vielleicht das bislang sch6nste Album von ihm ist. Nur drei Seiten dieses Doppelalbums sind bespielt, die Erklarung dafur liefert Winter auf dem Hullentext. Jedenfalls stort dieser Umstand kaum, da es eine sehr hinreissende Musik ist, die auf den 3 Seiten geboten wird. Und obendrein ist die Musik, wer hatte das fUr mdglich gehalten, ausserst abwechslungsreich, der Bogen wird vom einfachen Blues Uber Chuck Berry bis hin zum schweren, modernen Blues gespannt. and bringt neben ansprechenden Songs sehr frische and lebendige Musik, der zwar Vorbilder aus der angelsachsischen Popmusik anzumerken sind, die aber nie den Eindruck des Kopierens aufkommen lassen.
3 December 1969 Oakland Tribune
In the column “Guest Album” , Dan Farte reviews the recently released “Second Winter”. The transcript of the review follows
Today’s column, a review of Johnny Winter’s latest album, is by Dan Forte of Hayward. Readers are to submit reviews of their favorite pop albums or interviews with entertainers to the column each week. Those whose columns are published will each receive a copy of a recently released stereo pop album. Address all correspondence to: Guest Albuia, Teen Age, Oak-land Tribune, P.O. Box 509, Oakland, 94641.
“Second Winter” by Johnny Winter is literally an album and a half. As Winter explains in the liner notes, the group recorded an excess of material, planning to leave off anything that didn’t satisfy them. In the end, all 11 songs were included, but put on three sides, because squeezing them all onto one record would have lost volume. As Winter stales, “We couldn’t honestly give you more, and we didn’t want to give you less, so here is exactly what we did in Nashville — no more and no less.” “We” is Winter’s group, which has now apparently added a new member. Johnny’s older brother, Edgar, who was used to augment a few cuts on the first Columbia album, plays alto sax and keyboards.
The other members are Uncle John Turner en drums and Tommy Shannon on bass — both great instrumentalists. Winter plays lead mandolin and handles all vocals. All members are from Texas. “Memory Pain.” minus Edgar, is an old blues which Winter has speeded up. This cut immediately displays the togetherness of the group. “I’m Not Sure,” with Edgar on harpsichord, seems confusing at the start. but after a short “hoochie koochie” type of break, the group goes back to the original tempo, and gels going a lot better. “The Good Love” has its composer, Dennis Collins, on bass. This cut features Johnny using a wah-wah pedal, and shows influence of Jimi Hendrix.
Side two shows another side of Winter, with three old rock and roll tunes. “Slippinl and Slidin’ ” and “Miss Ann” both written by Little Ri-hard, don’t come across very well. The group is more than competent in this field, but Johnny’s singing is an attempt to copy Little Richard. It would have been better if the group had done it in Winter’s style, like the next track, “Johnny B. Goode,” On this cut the group doesn ‘t try to said like Chuck Berry, as the Rolling Stones and other groups have done. This is easily one of the best cuts on this album. Another great one is Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited.”
This is a hard – driving blues with some of the best slide-guitar ever, It far impasses the original. Side three opens with “I Love Everybody,” a Johnny Winter original. as are all songs on this side which features “I’m Not Sure.” This is a fine blues, slightly reminiscent of Muddy Waters’ “Two Trains Runnin’.” Similarly, “Hustled Down in Texas” is close to “Got My Mojo Working,” also written by Muddy Waters. Johnny again uses a wah-wah pedal, plus some fuzz effects. “I Hate Everybody” shows the group’s talent in still another field — jazz. It features great guitar work by Johnny, and a few saxes and an organ played by Edgar. It continues into a drum introduction for “Fast Life Rider,” which is minus Edgar.
Shannon plays some great, fast bass, and Red Twiner pounds out powerful driving drums. Stereo speaker switching makes it appear as though two guitarists are trading riffs. The song lasts more than seven minutes, and Johnny, aided only by drums throughout much of the song, shows why Mike Bloomfield once called him the greatest white blues guitarist, Personally, I doubt if any blues guitarist — white or black — could carry his pick, if possible, Winter has out-done his first Columbia al-, and also “The Progressive Blues Experiment” on Imperial. It’s too bad there isn’t a fourth side, but these three sides are plenty. Besides, another side would raise the price.
3 December 1969, Warrendale PA
“Second Winter” – Johnny Winter
Johnny Winter’s first LP was a big hype, a put-on, and so is his second one. But this time it’s for a different reason This is the first three-sided LP to be released in R n’ R history Details are in the album liner notes. The music is quite good, sometimes on the verge of greatness It features two outstanding Winters originals “Hustled In Texas” and “Fast Life Rider ” He also gets down to Little Richard’s “Slippin & Shdm.” Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and Dylan’s “Highway 61 ” This time Winters lets loose with his guitar and it feels real good
6 December 1969 Pasadena Star News
“We couldn’t honestly give you more, and we didn’t want to give you less, so here is exactly what we did in Nashville.” So comments Johnny Winter on his unusual three-side offering, “Second Winter” on Columbia. Both Winter’s voice and guitar groan, grunt, shriek and roar through an electrifying serving of blues tunes, many written by Winter himself. if there was any doubt, “Second Winter” brilliantly demonstrates that Winter is in a class by himself among blues guitarists. If you like it fast wild and heavy, this is your album.
11 January 1970 The Abilene Reporter News
SOUNDS Reporter-News Record Review
SECOND WINTER. Johnny Winter. Columbia.
There’s nobody around who can beat Johnny Winter when it comes to getting rock and blues type offerings out of his guitar. Put his finger work with his Little Richard-type vocals and a trio of musicians and you get some real interesting musical renditions which I can guarantee won’t lull you to sleep. THE ONLY THING which keeps Second Winter from being at the top of the heap right now is that the album suffers from what used to be called the sports reporter-amusements reporter syndrome back in the old days of journalism: the musicians didn’t know when to quit. Winter says on the jacket: “The original plan was to cut a much material as possible and pick the best of what was cut to make up a regular one-recorc album.”
But cutting material woulc have hurt one goal, making it as loud as is technically ossible.” Besides, they liked all the material: “We also really liked everything we’d done and didn’t want to leave any of the songs out. We couldn’t honestly give you more, and we didn’l want to give you less, so here is exactly what we did in Nashville —no more and no less. THE RESULT Is a record album which is much better than average. Winter really stands out on such songs as “Slippin’ and Slidin’,” “Miss Ann,” “Johnny B. Goode,” and ‘Highway 61 Revisited.” He’s at his best on the guitar in “I Hate Everybody,” where he clear, quick stepping notes bring to mind George Barnes Jazz guitar style.
Organ background by Edgar Winter sure helps the song, too. The good stuff is dulled by a few other songs, such as the X rated lyrics of “I Love verybody.” At times the side vith “Memory Pain,” “I’m Na Sure,” and “The Good Love’ sounds more like a shouting match than a musical feast, too A little cutting, and the album would have been tops in its field — BOB ARMISTEAD
Sunday 7 February 1970 The Sunday Times, Fitchburg
Youth Beat, The National Report on What’s Happening
WINTER WISHES — Wish we could hand out Johnny Winter’s supersmash LP, Second Winter, to everyone who wrote in with a good reason for wanting it, but what with almost 800 ‘requests, it can’t be done. We’ll pass along one more, though, to Alice Johnson, of Antioch, 111., who told us she wanted the record so she could give it to her kids “so they’ll see that mom isn’t so square after all.” Knew it all along, but if the kids need convincing, we’ll supply some.
17 February 1970 The Prospector El Paso
Record review by Gros Ed
Johnny Winter — “Second Winter” (Columbia KCS9947)
Some clutz on the “Prospector” staff lost one record of this two record set before I could get it so I’ll tell you what I can from half the album. In a stroke of cheapness, this 2-record set has only 3 sides (I got the record with one side). Winter is obviously a great talent on his guitar (although his singing is zilch) and he rocks his way the entire album, thrashing each song with fantastic riffs and deafening volume. He uses his wah-wah to an excess, but since he has no sloppy playing to hide, I can’t understand why. About 45 minutes worth of hard-driving, rocking, loud
Second Winter Legacy Release
Reviews of the re-release of Second Winter
The remastered edition of Johnny Winter’s classic second “triple-sided” album, Second Winter is a gem in and of itself. Forget the deluxe packaging, extensive liner notes and inclusion of the previously “lost” live concert, Live At Royal Albert Hall as a bonus CD.
This is a must-have album for every blues fan. Classics like “I’m Not So Sure,” “Highway 61 Revisited,” and the definitive version of the oft-covered “Johnny B Goode” are staples of a bluesman whose career has touched and/or influenced many of the greats. From the traditional blues of “I Love Everybody” to the experimental “Fast Life Rider,” and touching on newer sounds like an electric mandolin and textured keyboards in the progressive “I’m Not So Sure,” as well as including two bonus tracks, “Early In The Morning” and an instrumental version of Ray Charles’ “Tell The Truth” which smokes, there is absolutely nothing here to disappoint.
While the remastered version isn’t quite as unique as the original (and only) three-sided LP version, the sound quality improvements of the music more than make up for it. Purists will, of course, not be as impressed by the sound improvements of the remastering but the sound has definitely benefitted from the remaster and is extremely clean-sounding.
Also included here is an April, 1970 show from Royal Albert Hall in London, capturing the group at the height of their 1970 tour. Improvising their way through the slow, melodic B.B. King classic “It’s My Own Fault, Baby” to the smokin’ “Tobacco Road” and hitting the Rock ‘n Roll national anthem, “Johnny B Goode,” the show highlights the talent of a great live band, particularly the live improve skill of one of the most polished guitarists of our time.
The Legacy edition remaster of this classic album, along with the bonus tracks and the live show make this a must-have package for any fan of the blues.
Second Winter Expanded Edition
Johnny Winter’s 1969 follow-up album to his self-titled smash debut for Columbia made history as the only three-sided LP ever put out. He wanted to release everything he recorded during his Nashville sessions, but was told that he’d lose volume if it was confined to a single disc.
Besides its historic value, it’s vintage Winter, with blistering guitar solos on “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Johnny B. Goode” and some of the best material the Great White Wonder has ever written. It’s also his last album made with the great rhythm section he used in his early days in Texas.
What’s new about the reissue? First, it’s digitally remastered, for better — and worse. There are two new studio tracks. And disc two this time consists entirely of a “lost” concert at the Royal Albert Hall from 1970, with Winter at his finest
Second Winter Legacy Edition
Second Winter is a hotbed of blues-rock. With the first set of guitar rifts blasting, “Memory Pain” past the grille of your speakers, somehow you just know that this blues-rock guitarist that hails from Mississippi and who has a made-for-blues voice would be otherworldly. And so he has become, a saint amongst the illuminati of blues-rock aficionados. With solid schooling, Johnny Winter was 70s blues-rock, the like that many owe their styles to.
Johnny Winter’s second Columbia album was a strange one in that the 2-album set featured 3 sides of music with the 4th side blank. But contained on those 3-sides was music so intense, you were forced to take notice. Winter was a shaft of glory sprung from the halo of the Blues and any song from Second Winter validates that.
This Legacy issue of Second Winter dynamically improves on the album’s original release by including not only the original material but also 2 unreleased bonus tracks including an instrumental “Tell the Truth”, a Ray Charles song. To sweeten the pot, Legacy has also included a second disc that exclusively features a 1970 Royal Albert Hall show. This 2nd disc represents the first time that this show has been released to the public.
The concert, a smoker of a show, comes from a set done at Royal Albert Hall in 1970. Winter is no stranger to live shows, which is how he is ultimately set free, like a captive animal who finally gets the roam of the jungle. Within the expanse of this show is a rousing live version of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode”, a song that is also found on the studio part of this album. However, there are 2 extraordinary performances of “Tobacco Road” and of “Frankenstein.” “Frankenstein” is a song that achieved high charting status as a funky instrumental piece for Edgar Winter later in the 70s. It’s done here in an embryonic, but very entertaining, very different way. I find it to be ultimately more rewarding than Edgar Winter’s studio version. It’s raw, structured, but oh so good, clocking in at around 9-minutes. “Tobacco Road” occupies much more of the bits found on this CD, an 11-minute intensity that makes the listener long for the days of blues-funk played in a live setting such as is found here.
Rounding out the 2nd disc are tracks like the 12-minute extended work of “It’s My Own Fault”, the Sonny Boy Williamson song, “Help Me”, and the 11-minute blast of Johnny Winter’s own “Mean Town Blues.” There are 9 blistering songs here, all played to the fullest extent allowed by Fire Marshalls lest the Hall be burned down and become history. The band consisted of Johnny’s brother, Edgar Winter, whose White Trash ensemble turned out great material but who narrowed his output to plant his later band, The Edgar Winter Group, into the lofty singles arena; and the impeccable rhythm section of Tommy Shannon on bass and “Uncle” John Turner on drums to complement the inimitable Johnny Winter. This lineup, my friends, may be the most intensive and incendiary of any live blues-funk-rock band to date.
Working backward from the bonus of the live addition CD to the original album, Legacy has unearthed and included 2 unreleased cuts, “Early in the Morning” and an instrumental “Tell the Truth” that is also found in the live set of disc 2 albeit in vocal rendition. Both of these tracks were recorded in 1969 but not included on Second Winter until now. They both fit quite well as a result. In the studio, Johnny has an uncanny talent of capturing the heart of a song recorded thereby creating an element of the live performance. With the slide added, Johnny knew few equal. He could make the guitar and the slide implement become one as if they were originally created one for the other, the Adam and Eve of sound.
The sound on this Legacy issue is a noticeable improvement over the earlier release of the same title on CD. This is true of most, if not all, of earlier re-issued albums’ first appearance on CDs. The sound and packaging were deplorable in many instances. Legacy’s approach is an admirable one as they not only remaster the music but also augment and bolster the original album with bonus cuts from the same sessions and live performances. With improved packaging, Legacy reissues become definitive in that they offer a complete overview of the period that the album was created in. Completists and purists should be very pleased. The packaging is a tri-fold digipak that houses the two discs as well as a 24-page booklet with plenty of new notes and comments by the band of the time. This is slip-cased by a clear plastic Legacy dust cover.
With a searing blend of covers and originals, Second Winter becomes essential to any fan’s blues-rock library. Johnny Winter’s second Columbia album brought with it the promise of a champion. That promise eventually was realized on subsequent Winter releases like Nothin’ But the Blues; White, Hot, and Blue; Johnny Winter And; Still Alive and Well; John Dawson Winter III; and Saints and Sinners found on Blue Sky and eventual Alligator releases. I find the re-release of this set momentous and highly satisfying and can recommend it emphatically.
“Rounding out the 2nd disc are tracks like the 12-minute extended work of “It’s My Own Fault”, the Sonny Boy Williamson song, “Help Me”, and the 11-minute blast of Johnny Winter’s own “Mean Town Blues.” There are 9 blistering songs here, all played to the fullest extent allowed by Fire Marshalls lest the Hall be burned down and become history. The band consisted of Johnny’s brother, Edgar Winter, whose White Trash ensemble turned out great material but who narrowed his output to plant his later band, The Edgar Winter Group, into the lofty singles arena; and the impeccable rhythm section of Tommy Shannon on bass and “Uncle” John Turner on drums to complement the inimitable Johnny Winter. This lineup, my friends, may be the most intensive and incendiary of any live blues-funk-rock band to date.”
“The concert, a smoker of a show, comes from a set done at Royal Albert Hall in 1970. Winter is no stranger to live shows, which is how he is ultimately set free, like a captive animal who finally gets the roam of the jungle. Within the expanse of this show is a rousing live version of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode”, a song that is also found on the studio part of this album. However, there are 2 extraordinary performances of “Tobacco Road” and of “Frankenstein.” “Frankenstein” is a song that achieved high charting status as a funky instrumental piece for Edgar Winter later in the 70s. It’s done here in an embryonic, but very entertaining, very different way. I find it to be ultimately more rewarding than Edgar Winter’s studio version. It’s raw, structured, but oh so good, clocking in at around 9-minutes. “Tobacco Road” occupies much more of the bits found on this CD, an 11-minute intensity that makes the listener long for the days of blues-funk played in a live setting such as is found here.
Originally released in February 1974, Saints & Sinners was re-issued on February 27, 1996 with the previously unreleased song “Dirty,” a Winter original, added. The slide guitar-and-flute track is not consistent with the rest of the album, but it is interesting to hear.
LP: CBS S 65842 (Recorded: 1974)
The album “Sainta and Sinners” has also been released as a Quadraphonic LP
Producer: Rick Derringer
The Johnny Winters record: “Saints and Sinners” scores #42 on 23 Feb 1974 in the Billboard charts.
Stone county – also available as a single on Play Back Records
Blinded by love
Stray cat blues
Bad luck situation
Rollin’ cross the country
Riot in cell block #9
Hurtin so bad
Feedback on highway 101 (an unreleased Van Morrison song)
Jetzt ist wieder Johnny dran
Von dem ‘Trio’ gibt’s immer Neues zu berichten, von Johnny Winter, seinem Bruder Edgar und von ihrem Freund, musikalischen Mitstreiter und meistens auch Produzenten Rick Derringer. Rick (Ex-McCoy), er ist auf vielen Alben von Edgar & Johnny zu horen, spielte lange live mit Edgar, hat mit “All American Boy” sein erstes Solo-Album vor kurzem veroffentlicht und in diesen Tagen seine Single-Auskopplung “Teenage Love Affair”. Edgar kommt gerade mit seiner neuen LP “Shock Treatment” auf den Markt (Rick wie immer dabei).
Johnny endlich bringt eine Single heraus, die auf seinem jungsten Long-player schon drauf ist, entstanden, wen wundert’s noch, unter Assistenz der beiden anderen Rock-Kumpane. Auf seine Biografie sollte man kurz zuruckblenden Als er 1962 auf der Chicagoer Musikszene auftauchte, schrieben Kritiker aber ihn, er sei der “einzig legitime Nachfolger von Jimi Hendrix”.
Den aus Beaumont, Texas, stammenden klapperdarren Albino mit dem Silberblick zog’s ins Blues-Mekka. Nachdem er zunachst mit Bruder Edgar als “It And Them” (spater in “Johnny Winter And The Black Plague” umbenannt) aufgetreten war, gastierte er kurze Zeit spater in Mike Bloomfield’s Fickle Pickle. Im Dezember 1968 brachte ein Rolling Stone-Artikel alles ins Rollen. Tiny Tim-Entdecker Steve Paul holte ihn nach New York. An einem Morgen, um 2.00 Uhr, lief im Fillmore East ein Supersession mit Hendrix, Stills, Bloomfield und Winter. Billboard schrieb danach: “Johnny ist das heiBeste Rock-Phanomen seit Bob Dylan.
Das bereitwillige Publikum wird formlich zur kompletten Kapitulation getrieben, wenn der weiBe Blues-Satan seine betaubende, hinreissende Show abzieht”. Der weiB blonde Magier sorgte nicht nur far Explosion auf der Bahne, sein erstes Album “Johnny Winter” (eine Art Sammlung von Delta-Blues-Stucken) bewies das. Nach “Second Winter” (ein Doppelalbum, von dem kurioserweise eine Seite leer blieb) erschien “Johnny Winter And”, eine Aufnahme, die Johnny mit den Ex-McCoys (“Hang on Sloopy”…) einspielte und seine Entwicklung vom Blues zum Rock beschleunigte.
Der Konzert-Mitschnitt “Johnny Winter Live” war der nachste Plattentreffer. Nach seiner Deutschlandtournee im Fruhjahr 1971 wurde es etwas still um den Albino-Gitarristen. Zwei Jahre muBte er wegen einer Entziehungskur pausieren. Dann konstatierte der Titel des neuen Albums Johnny’s regenerierten Zustand: “Still Alive And Well”. Sein jUngstes Opus, aus dem auch die jetzt ausgekoppelte Single “Boney Moroney” stammt, ist “Saints And Sinners”, das der Pop-Presse Uberschwengliche Rezensionen entlockte. So schrieb SOUNDS: “Er weiB nicht nur, was Rock & Roll ist, er lebt ihn, erlebt ihn, lebt ihn aus denk’ ich an seine nachste LP, lacht mir das Herz im Leibe”.
Und Pop sekundiert: “Knall-harter, knochentrockener Rock!” MUSIK EXPRESS schlieBlich jubelt: “Nirgends ist die Platte langweilig, man kann nicht alle Tracks einzeln erwahnen. Wer Johnny mag, wird begeistert sein. So wie ich…. Wooooowww!!!” (Bewertung mit 4 Sternen = sehr gut) Ein heisser Winter
Sounds 2 Feb 1974
JOHNNY WINTER: “SAINTS & SINNERS” (CBS) Import .
JOHNNY WINTER has just finished the final mixes of his new album and this white label copy arrived from the States hot of the press this week. It’s Johnny’s second comeback album and as such he has had full opportunity to take his time and show that he reallv is still alive and well, since the last album was something of a misnomer. fairly, disappointing from beginning to end. “Saints & Sinners” marks a reunion of musicians since Rick Derringer produced it, brother Edgar organises some lovely horn work and plays keyboards. Bobby Caldwell plays drums on a few cuts. Jon Smith and Dan Hartman.
Also sit in alongside John’s permanent sidemen Randy Jo Hobbs on bass and Richard Hughes on drums. The message is plain from the opening cut when Winter and Co. fairly tear into Richard Supa’s “Stone County” and never let up. And in a sense that’s the main’ criticism of this album and marks the tendency of Derringer to over-embellish in the studios. The whole album is too uptight and too upfront, as though Winter and Derringer between them are trying to contrive the excitement rather than let it flow naturally. Winter’s guitar sits well into the overall ensemble but rarely gets the chance to break out with that strident grace for which he is known.
As for the tracks, the promised David Bowie song hasn’t materialised but once again Johnny pays tribute to the Rolling Stones on “Stray Cat Blues” and Allen Toussaint with – ‘Blinded By Love” where he is happy to let his guitar rest behind Derringer’s. These are the two outstanding cuts and completely overshadow the older classics like Chuck Berry’s “Thirty Days’. Larry Williams’ “Boney Maroney’ and the Lieber-Stoller composition “Riot In Cell Block No. 9” which has just about been done to death. Johnny Winter still has a lot of playing in him, that much is for sure – but right now he needs Edgar or Rick or Steve Paul to point him in the direction in which he can work easily without trying to prove himself all over again. – J.G.
Disc Magazine 11 May 1974
JOHNNY WINTER “Saints & Sinners” (CBS-U.S. import £2.45).
A superior package and presentation to “Still Alive and Well”, this is the closest Winter has come to delivering the perfect vehicle-and vehicle is apt for a record that-trucks like an Inter-City express. December’s child and his aides (which include producer Rick Derringer, brother Edgar, Dan Hartman, Randy Hobbs and Jo Jo Gunne) could teach rock ‘n’ roll to the bulk of today’s hopefuls and a good percentage of the recognised greats, so advanced is their craftsman-ship.
The layers of wild guitar woven in tight rhythm stretch back into the mix with the depth of a 3D movie, always allowing space for Johnny’s own fiery lead work. Stone County is a ripping opener for straight rock ‘n’ roll fans, coupled with Chuck Berry’s Thirty Days and Larry Williams old Boney Moroney. Sore throat followers can go to town on blues with Riot In Cell Block 9 and Hurtin’ So Bad, while driving heavy rock predominates the other five cuts. Production by Rick D. is clear and punchy; organic direction is by manager Steve Paul – and that has to be defined to be believed! Cover photo looks like Kenny Everett used an electric razor in the bath.’*;
Sounds: 2 Feb 1974
The whole album is too uptight and too upfront, as though Winter and Derringer between them are trying to contrive the excitement rather than let it flow naturally. Winter’s guitar sits well into the overall ensemble but rarely gets the chance to break out with that strident grace for which he is known.
MW 13 April 1974
Saints and Sinners. CBS 65842. Producer: Rick Derringer – Has been called the best white blues singer alive, inexplicably on the evidence of this motley collection, which includes songs by Chuck Berry, the Stones, Van Morrison and Lieber/Stoller, together with several self-penned tracks. In view of this variety, the monotony of the music is something of an achievement. Peppered with hackneyed 10-year old guitar riffs, as on the rock standard Boney Moroney, presumably in an attempt at nostaligic recreation. Only for the already converted.
MM 27 Apr 1974
JOHNNY WINTER: “Saints And Sinners” (CBS), Whilst English rock musicians have mostly got the bad taste field sewn up, an award of some sort should be made to the brothers Winter, who have long specialised in unpleasant noises. Edgar was all right once his solo “Entrance,” and the first White Trash album were very enjoyable, but Johnny, to me at least, has never seemed like anv more than a freaky looking, very ordinary-sounding guitarist, with a rasping, grating excuse for a voice. On ” Saints And Sinners, ” Johnny is slightly more adventurous than usual in choice of material.
He tackles Van Morrison’s “Feedback On Highway 101” and Jagger/Richard’s “Stray Cat Blues” with (just) tolerable results. And a slow blues, “HurLin’ So Bad works okay, within its own limitations. It’s the up-tempo ones that I can’t listen to at all. “Riot In Cell Block 9″ and ” Boney Moroney ” are both over-endowed with the Winter faster-than-the-speedof-light guitar. It’s not an original line, but I’ll say it anyhow what’s Johnny going to do with all the time he saves by playing so fast? Of course, it’s the easiest thing in the world to dash off a negative album review; maybe this album represents hours of careful, dedicated work in the studios but somehow I don’t think so.
Still, if your idea of fun is being earbashed by an unrelenting blur of high-pitched guitar then “Saints And Sinners” is just what you’ve been waiting for ever since the last ‘Ten Years dater record.
Johnny Winter – Saint or Sinner?
Johnny Winter-‘s sixth album, may prove to be his biggest seller and finally justify all the hoopla that surrounded his signing by Co1umbia.five years ago. At the time he was touted as the most fantastic white blues guitarist alive and given a large and’well-pub- licized advance.
Like _any hype, the expectations.created could never and Johnny won fame and fans, he never really attained that superstar status of a Jimi Hendrix or an Eric Clapton.
The pressures of constant touring hit him hard and threw Johnny into a battlewith drugs that finally caused him to drop out of the music scene ,for a year.
It was no accident that his first album after he emerged once again was called “Still Alive And Well;” Now almost a year later “Saints & Sinners” presents Johnny in a driving rock and roll setting. Certainly his guitar screams out bluesy strains and his throaty voice hollers out the lyrics with intensity, but the over-all sound is more varied thanks to Rick Derringer’s super production.
Johnny’s voice and guitar attack the Leiber and Stoller “Riot In Cell Block No. 9” with fire and Chuck Berry’s “Thirty Days” packs a hard driving punch enhanced by Edgar Winter’s tinkling tack piano. On “Blinded By Love,” written by Allen Toussaint, Johnny gets into a lowdown funky mood vocally and echoes that spirit in his guitar solos.
The material, which includes a new Van Morrison “Feedback On Highway 101,” shows Johnny off to his best advantage. Most important, “Saints Sinners” has the kind of ex- citement that will hook even those who haven’t previously ‘tuned into Johnny Winter.
After a Seven Years wait the legendary Johnny Winter will release his new studio album entitled Roots on September 27, 2011 via Megaforce Records. This album returns Johnny to his roots by paying homage to the iconic blues heroes whose pioneering music influenced Winter’s own signature sound and style. Roots is the follow up to his Grammy-nominated “I’m a Blues Man”.
Johnny Winter ROOTS album
Many friends will appear as special guests and join Winter trading licks in honoring his idols, including Sonny Landreth, Vince Gill, Warren Haynes, John Popper, Jimmy Vivino, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, John Medeski and Johnny’s brother Edgar Winter.
Among the 11 tracks that together represent a veritable history of the Blues, are songs by the genre’s elder statesmen including a version of Robert Johnson’s 1936 recording “Dust My Broom.” Winter pays respect to the greats who came to prominence in the late 1940s and ’50s including Elmore James “Done Somebody Wrong,” Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Further On Up The Road” and Chuck Berry’s first hit single, “Maybellene.” Also featured is “Come Back Baby,” written by Walter Davis and made popular by Ray Charles, Jimmy Reed’s 1961 hit, “Bright Lights, Big City,” and Muddy Waters’ version of “Got My Mojo Working.” Brother Edgar guests on “Honky Tonk,” the one instrumental featured on Roots. Rounding out the collection are Little Walter’s “Last Night,” Larry Williams’ “Short Fat Fannie” and T-Bone Walker’s “T-Bone Shuffle.” This special project was directed by famed guitarist Paul Nelson who’s role is as both producer and performer on this recording.
Track listing and special guests joining Mr. Winter on Roots:
Bright Lights, Big City (featuring Susan Tedeschi on lead guitar/vocals)
Honky Tonk (featuring Edgar Winter on sax)
Dust My Broom (featuring Derek Truckson slide guitar)
Short Fat Fannie (featuring Paul Nelson on guitar)
Come Back Baby (featuring John Medeski on organ)
Johnny Winter has been the unofficial torch-bearer for the blues, championing and aiding the careers of his idols like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. Johnny had a special relationship with Muddy Waters and is often credited with revitalizing the legendary guitarist, where Winter produced and played on Waters’ Grammy-winning comeback album Hard Again, Grammy-winning I’m Ready (1978), Grammy-winning Muddy Mississippi Waters Live (1979) and also King Bee (1980). Johnny was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1988.
Today Johnny Winter is enjoying an unparalleled resurgence performing to sold out shows worldwide even after a long life full of honors and accomplishments such as a triumphant appearance at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival with Derek Trucks, Buddy Guy and Clapton that has been immortalized on the Emmy award-winning DVD. In a ceremony with Slash presenting in Nashville, Gibson Guitars released the signature Johnny Winter Firebird guitar that has been his beloved trademark for years. A Live through the 70s DVD is a hit along with his Live Bootleg Series CDs that have all entered the Top 10 Billboard Blues charts. Two unique instructional DVDs have been produced by Cherry Lane/Hal Leonard to the gratitude of players around the world. Always one for special appearances he recently performed with the Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan on the 40th anniversary of their debut.
In addition Winter has been headlining such prestigious events as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Chicago Blues Festival, Swedish Rock Fest, Warren Haynes X-mas jam and Europe’s Rockpalast viewed bymillions just to name a few. Warner Bros. has now released a 40th anniversary DVD of Woodstock: 3 Days of Love and Peace the Director’s cut featuring, for the first time, Johnny playing his smoking classic “Meantown Blues.”
Winter continues to tour nationally and internationally with highly acclaimed band, performing more than 120 shows a year. His health has never been better as Winter has kicked all the demons that have been a part of his life since the ’60s. A totally clean Winter recently toured Japan in April 2011 for his first shows ever in that country.
Johnny Winter is the international ambassador for rocking Texas blues and still going strong!
This album “Nothing But The Blues”, which marks Johnny Winter’s return to his musical roots: THE BLUES, scores #146 on the USA Billboard Charts
LP: Blue Sky Sky 82141 (1977)
Johnny Winter – Guitar, Vocals
Muddy Waters – vocals
James Cotton – harp
“Pine” Top Perkins -piano
Bob Margolin – electric guitar
Willie “Big Eyes” Smith – drums
Charles Calmese – bass
Produced By Johnny Winter Sound by Dave Still Organic advisor: Steve Paul Recorded and Mixed at The Schoolhouse Recording Assistance: Grant Barlow Mastered at Sterling Sound, N.Y.C. by Greg Calbi All songs by Johnny except Walking thru the park by Muddy
Tired Of Tryin’ – 3:40
Tv Mama – 3:11
Sweet Love And Evil Women – 2:50
Everybody’s Blues – 5:03
Drinkin’ Blues – 5:03
Mad Blues – 4:17
It Was Rainin’ – 5:53
Bladie Mae – 3:30
Walking Thru The Park – 4:07
ROLLING STONE ALBUM GUIDE: ***1/2
Producing the triumphant ‘Hard Again’ for Muddy Waters in 1977 must’ve stimulated Winter’s own deep-seated feel for the blues; ‘Nothin’ but the Blues’ is a gratifying return to early form.
ALL MUSIC GUIDE: ****
After a long period making rock records, Winter fronts the Muddy Waters band (with Waters singing) on this Chicago blues workout. He sounds happier than ever before.
Stereo November 1977 (Germany)
JOHNNY WINTER, Nothin’ but the Blues; Blue Sky/CBS SKY 82 141 Eine Platte, die einem Glaubens-bekenntnis für die Zeitlosigkeit des Blues gleichkommt: in der Form so traditionell wie nur denkbar, aber in Inhalt und Ge-fühl so urwüchsig, spontan uni erotisierend, wie das nur ein in’ dieser Tradition verwurzeltes Unikum wie dieser Albino-Gitar-rist spielen kann. Seit dem “Progressive Blues Experiment” und seinem CBS-Debüt hat Johnny Winter nicht mehr so hemmungslos Tweive-Bar-Blues musiziert, und wenn man die in den fünfziger und frühen sechziger Jahren aufgenommenen Spät-Klassiker des Genres damit vergleicht, schneidet Nothin’ But The Blues” nicht nur nicht schlecht ab, zusammen mit dem ebenso von Winter produzierten Gegenstück “Hard Again” von Muddy Waters, das parallel entstand, ist die LP eines der schlakkenlosen Blues-Meisterwerke diese Jahizehnts. (Und die Frage stellt sich zwangsläufig: Muß man Albino sein, um den Blues so hinreißend spielen zu kön-nen?) Die Begleitmusiker sind Legenden: Muddy Waters (singt hier nur), ‘James Cotton an der Harmonika und “Pine Top” Perkins..”a rn Piano. Was Keith Richard an den alten Chess-Auf-nahmen so bewunderte, ist hier wieder realisiert: Nicht allein das individuelle Können und die so-listische Virtuosität zählt, son-dern der “Sound” und das En-semble-Gefühl, das kollektive Verständnis. Die Platte könnte genausogut den Titel des be-rühmten Stones-Bootiegs tra-gen: LIVER THAN YOU’LL EVER BE! Genauso wurde sie auch aufgenommen. Eine wahre Erholung angesichts all der auf Effektsound getrimmten Bestseller, bei denen die Verpackung und nur sie den Inhalt verkaufen soll, der schlecht genug ist
This album came out in 1977, the same year as Muddy Waters’ excellent comeback-album “Hard Again”, which Johnny Winter produced and played on. And here on “Nothin’ But The Blues”, Winter fronts the mighty Muddy Waters band, leading them through a very well-arranged set of his own compositions, and a powerful rendition of Muddy’s “Walkin’ Thru The Park”.
Johnny Winter handles the lead vocals himself (except on “Walkin’ Thru The Park”), and his throaty vocals suit these purposely traditional blues compositions pretty well. Winter plays guitar as well, of course, and a little bit of bass and drums, too, and his acoustic steel guitar playing in particular is pure bluesy pleasure.
Highlights include…well, almost every song, actually. The acoustic slide guitar workout “TV Mama” (not the Big Joe Turner song) is sublime, as is the swaggering, harp-driven “Tired Of Tryin'”, the thumping, groovy “Bladie May”, and the fine “Sweet Love And Evil Women”, a showcase for “Steady Rollin'” Bob Margolin, whose shimmering lead guitar lines wind their way all around Winter’s gruff vocals.
Johnny Winter fans seem to be somewhat divided…some prefer his bluesier albums, while others go for his (coughgenericandpredictablecough) rock n’ roll records. This is definitely one for the blues crowd, a really fine collection of original songs, and one of Johnny Winter’s best albums. Highly recommended.
Johnny quotes on back on album: “I’d like to dedicate this album to all the people who enjoy my kind of blues and especially to Muddy Waters for giving me the inspiration to do it and for giving the world a lifetime of great blues.”