Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Johnny Winter - The Best of

I got this CD because I dug the first Winter album so much and I couldn’t find anything else out here in Vegas and was dying to hear some more vintage Johnny! This is a fine selection of some of his best and most well known songs.

Opening with one of his signature rockers, “Rock’n’Roll Hootchie Koo”, the Rick Derringer penned 70’s masterpiece, you learn right away what this is all about – wild ass blues influenced r’n’r. Rick did a phenomenal version of this song, as well, but this is what most people know Johnny for. While he was primarily a bluesman, he had no problem blasting out blistering r’n’r when he wanted!

Unfortunately, the booklet included in this CD, while displaying some rockin’ photos, does not list the albums that the tunes are taken from. These are all early tracks, though, as he moves back and forth from blues to rock. Several are taken from the wonderful debut album and more have the same 1969 recording date, which points to Second Winter.

There’s a terrific “Johnny B. Goode” with brother Edgar pounding the piano doing his best Johnnie Johnson impression. Robert Johnson’s “Come on in My Kitchen” shows Johnny’s acoustic talents and includes Jeremy Steig’s flute, which works a little better than “Too Much Seconal” from Still Alive and Well. This song had not been released for a couple of decades and it’s good that it was finally able to see the light of day.

“Rollin’ and Tumblin’” is damn near maniacal and performed at break-neck speed. He takes on Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” and truly makes it his own with his highly original slide playing. Little Richard’s “Miss Ann” is given a jumpin’ & jivin’ reading, complete with Edgar’s keys and sax filling out the sound. There are a couple of extended live blues that give Johnny a chance to stretch out and show what he is capable of. Johnny and Rick even do some dueling guitar workouts, which is something that all guitar players should hear!

I will probably end up going back and purchasing all of the albums that these songs were originally released on, but in the meantime, this is a great collection and a super introduction to this guitar hero.