Johnny Winter – Speakers Corner Records

by | Mar 27, 2023 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Speakers Corner Records releases a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl of Johnny Winter’s breakthrough Columbia debut. 

Johnny Winter – Columbia Records CS 9826 (1969)/Speakers Corner Records (2022) 180-gram stereo vinyl, 33:45 ****1/2:

(Johnny Winter – lead guitar, slide guitar, harmonica, vocals; “Uncle” John Turner – percussion; Tommy Shannon – electric bass; Willie Dixon – double bass; Walter “Shaky” Horton – harmonica; Karl Grain – trumpet; Stephen Ralph Seasick – alto saxophone; A. Wynn Butler – tenor saxophone; Norman Ray – baritone saxophone; Edgar Winter – piano, alto saxophone; Carrie Hostel – background vocals; Peggy Bowers – background vocals; Elsie Center – background vocals)

Many of the emerging rock bands in the 1960’s were devotees of American blues. Most of these musicians would  transition to more popular “radio-friendly” genres. However, the pride of Beaumont Texas, Johnny Winter was not one of them. With Mike Bloomfield’s help, Winters signed a contract with Columbia Records. His self-titled debut featured unfettered blues with a unique thumb-picking style reminiscent of traditional Delta. Winter played both acoustic and highly charged electric blues. He produced three Grammy-winning albums for B.B. King. As a recording artist, he was active for 35 years. 

Speakers Corner Records has released a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl of Johnny Winters. This is quintessential Winters, as he is joined by long time band mates “Uncle” John Turner on drums and Tommy Shannon on electric bass. His multi-instrumentalist brother Edgar is also part of the sessions. Side 1 opens with the rollicking hook-driven original “I’m Yours And I’m Hers”. Winter’s guitar and slide guitar play is bluesy and jagged. His unique voice displays the innate urgency of blues. He covers “Be Careful With A Fool” nearly a decade after B.B. King. This version exudes slow-burning intensity as the trio stays in lockstep. Winter’s guitar work is crisp and incendiary. The singing feels authentic and is very heartfelt. One of Winter’s signature numbers “Dallas” is steeped in Delta blues. The acoustic slide guitar is expressive and rhythmic. Winter is able to create a new song that sounds like vintage blues music. “Mean Mistreater” is notable for the guest stars, Wille Dixon on double bass and “Shakey” Horton on harmonica. Horton and Winter deliver bona fide “low-down ’n’ nasty” performances that epitomize this genre.

This blues celebration continues on Side 2. Another original, “Leland Mississippi Blues” is classic blues rock with forceful electric guitar riffs and gut-wrenching vocals. In homage to Muddy Waters’ “Good Morning Little School Girl”, Winter offers a wailing vocal performance. The addition of tenor saxophone (A. Wynn Butler), alto saxophone (Edgar Winter) and trumpet (Kari Garin) expand the aural landscape and provide a smoother counterpoint to the gritty arrangement. “When You Got a Good Friend” is solo acoustic blues and features sone of Winter’s best vocals. His guitar is rhythmic and evocative. A certain highlight is the gospel-infused cover of I”ll Drown In My Tears”. This raucous number has the “big” sound (tenor, alto and baritone saxophone) and Edgar Winter provides some “Sunday morning” piano. There are soulful backup singers and the jam approximates classic Ray Charles. The finale (“Back Door Friend”) was a hit for Lightning Hopkins and Winter and his trio bring a ragged countenance to the performance.

Speakers Corner Records has done an excellent job in re-mastering Johnny Winter to 180-gram vinyl. The underlying raw energy of blues music is captured in this mix. The vinyl pressing has no hisses or pops. This album is a must for any blues rock fan. 

—Robbie Gerson     

Johnny Winter

TrackList:

Side 1: I’m Yours And I’m Hers; Be Careful With A Fool; Dallas; Mean Mistreater

Side 2: Leland Mississippi Blues; Good Morning Little School Girl; When You Got A Good Friend; I’ll Drown In My Tears; Back Door Friend      

More information through Acoustic Sounds:

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Album Cover for Johnny Winter



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