Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Edgar Winter’s White Trash – Roadwork

I have generally been a bigger fan of Johnny Winter than Edgar as Johnny is more of a blues man and Edgar is more of a jazz/r’n’b artist. But, Edgar has had his share of rock hits, such as the massive “Frankenstein” and “Keep Playing That Rock’n’Roll”, which are terrific songs. But, as I grow older, I’ve expanded my musical horizons somewhat and have learned to enjoy more of what Edgar does (though still not everything).

This live album was recorded on a tour that highlighted both Edgar and Rick Derringer, who was just striking out as a solo artist, as well as back-up musician and producer. Winter does not have any ego issues here as he allows others to take the center stage as often (if not more so) than he does. In fact, the intro song, a gospel-inspired number called “Save the Planet” is just the first number to feature Jerry Lacroix on vocals – sounding exactly like an old, black gospel singer. Edgar doesn’t show up on lead vocals (he is playing keyboards and horns on this album) until the 3rd tune, their spirited take on Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose”.

Derringer is given a substantial amount of side 2, beginning with his version of a song written for Johnny Winter, “Still Alive and Well” and including a high-energy version of Chuck Berry’s “Back in the USA”. He is joined by Johnny for an excellent “Rock’n’Roll, Hootchie Koo”, with fabulous playing by all.

Side 3 is taken up completely with the band’s very extended interpretation of the classic “Tobacco Road”. The basic track is excellent, with a powerful backing and Edgar showing his vocal virtuosity and cool sax chops. The guitar/vocal “duel” is fun for a little while, but the song does drag a bit before it reaches its 17 minute (!) mark.

The excitement does return on the 4th side recorded at the legendary Apollo Theater, starting with a humorous introduction by the unidentified host. I’m sure that the Apollo crowd wasn’t sure what to make of these (very) white boys, but the band seems to have won them over. “Cool Fool” is funky in the extreme and a fun, horn-driven romp. Derringer’s wah-wah introduces “Do Yourself a Favor” and combined with the horns, it makes this sound almost like a Issac Hayes number – cool stuff! The set (and album) concludes with a up-tempo “Turn on Your Love Light”, in which Lacroix sounds remarkably like Bobby “Blue” Bland and if everyone in the building wasn’t dancing for the wild church-house ending, then they were stronger people than I!

White Trash was a cool blend of gospel, funk, r’n’b, r’n’r and blues, so as long as you are not too dogmatic about your styles, there should be a little of something for everyone in this amalgamation! Good stuff!