Review Summary: Raw blues rock at its best. Great if you’re drunk, sorrowful, enraging and or just chilling out on a hot day.
There goes without saying that Johnny Winter
is one of the most underrated blues guitarists of all time. But that really is of no importance because to experience Winter is to experience true electric blues rock, making “Best Guitarist of All Time” lists redundant for the wider perspective of the world of music.
His highly acclaimed album White, Hot & Blue
, the sequel to 1977’s Nothin’ but the Blues
is just short of a classic, and probably the best thing in the genre during the years before the wonders of Stevie Ray Vaughan
. The grunting staircase of rhythms presented by his backing band offer a standard 12-bar approach to Winter’s intangible, yet powerful technique complete with climbing licks and leads that are simply candy to the ears. Solos are prevalent, and well performed, despite the colloquial presence of typical substance intoxication in the mix, which in turn furnishes the space with a feeling of total artistic authenticity.
Winter’s influences cannot go without saying however, as they are the backbone of the album, particularly through the covers, but also his style. Jimmy Rogers
song “Walking by Myself”
makes appearance as the album opener and does exceptionally well. The following covers of Taj Mahal
’s house rocking “E-Z Rider”
, and Sleepy Adam Estes
’ virtuosic “Divin’ Duck”
, all share a common goodness that designates Winter’s breathing space amongst the instrumentation for experimental expeditions. Later on, the interpretation of Walter Jabobs
’ “Last Night”
, stands above and beyond its original with a much more elegant feel. And yet while he does so well capturing his essence on these renders, he’s without doubt at his best when he’s above the pen, not under it, such as “Nickel Blues”
where his brother Edgar makes an appearance as pianist for the only ballad-y track, and “Slidin’ In”
, where the harmonica and guitar duo from Winter take stage and leave you wanting more.
Fans of any blues rock should pick this up, if not for the musicianship for the sheer fact that this Winter at one of his best charting moments. Given the quality of the performances you’ll certainly hear how he has total control of his guitar, as if it were his self-sufficient butler, snapped up at the click of a finger, or should I say, fret position.