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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Johnny Winter - Johnny Winter And (1970 us, superb hard blues rock, 2018 japan xpanded)

After two late-'60s albums on Columbia, Johnny Winter hit his stride in 1970 working with Rick Derringer and the McCoys, now recruited as his sidemen and collaborators (and proving with just about every note here how far they'd gotten past "Hang on Sloopy"). In place of the bluesy focus on his first two albums, Winter extended himself into more of a rock-oriented mode here, in both his singing and his selection of material. 

This was hard rock with a blues edge, and had a certain commercial smoothness lacking in his earlier work. Derringer's presence on guitar and as a songwriter saw to it that Winter's blues virtuosity was balanced by perfectly placed guitar hooks, and the two guitarists complemented each other perfectly throughout as well. 

There wasn't a weak moment anywhere on the record, and if Johnny Winter And wasn't a huge commercial success, it was mostly because of the huge amount of competition at the time from other, equally inspired players, that kept numbers like the Winter originals "Prodigal Son" and "Guess I'll Go Away" as well as Derringer co-authored pieces such as "Look Up" from having the impact they should have had on FM radio. 
by Bruce Eder

This album contains—surprise!—no blues. It is Rock and Roll at its very best. Good, solid songs—a few of them instant classics. The singing is funky, full of raspy screams, pushing the music towards some sort of ultimate ... edge. The new band consists of three ex-McCoys, a dyed-in-the-wool Rock Band. They still are. And good musicians—especially Rick Derringer, the guitarist-singer who shares the limelight with Johnny Winter.

The soul of the album is the interplay between Johnny Winter and Rick Derringer. On stage, it's easy to see how it works. Derringer plays guitar straight from the groin: solid-snaky rock lines. The root. Winter seems to play guitar in a state of transported ecstasy, like the bare electric skeleton of rock dancing in the mind-juice river. The branch. Winter's guitar-imagination has greater scope than Derringer's. Winter's guitar builds on Derringer's, elaborating, decorating, getting slinky and sliding right out of your brain. All without ever losing the beat, the sexual thread of the music.

Together, they sound like Hendrix playing behind Clapton. In fact, the album will remind you of the best moments of early Hendrix and early Cream. "Am I Really Here" sounds much like Cream's "White Room." The vocal to "Rock and Roll Hoochiekoo" has the same slide-punch inflections as Hendrix's singing. There are more examples of Influences At Work Here, but Winter and Derringer are much too good to be mere imitations. They have learned; they have transcended their influences and come up with something all their own.

Playing in a rock context has improved Winter's playing (if you can believe that possible). He seems more down-to-earth, more believable. You can dance to it. In fact, you'd better.

The material is surprisingly good — especially Derringer's compositions. "Rock and Roll Hoochiekoo" and "Funky Music" are both sturdy good-time rockers, and would make fine singles. Winter's compositions, though intense and moving, tend to lack form. They sometimes, as on "Nothing Left," fall apart in your ear. But what the hell. This is fine stuff, by far the best thing Johnny Winter has done. And that's saying something.
by David Gancher
1. Guess I'll Go Away (Johnny Winter) - 3:29
2. Ain't That A Kindness (Mark Klingman) - 3:30
3. No Time To Live (Jim Capaldi, Stevie Winwood) - 4:37
4. Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo (Rick Derringer) - 3:33
5. Am I Here (Randy Zehringer) - 3:25
6. Look Up (Rick Derringer, Robyn Supraner) - 3:35
7. Prodigal Son (Johnny Winter) - 4:18
8. On The Limb (Rick Derringer) - 3:36
9. Let The Music Play (Allan Nicholls, Otis Stephens) - 3:16
10.Nothing Left (Johnny Winter) - 3:31
11.Funky Music (Rick Derringer) - 4:58
12.Guess I'll Go Away (Live) (Johnny Winter) - 4:42
13.Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo (Live) (Rick Derringer) - 4:57
Bonus Tracks 12-13 Live at The Fillmore East, October 3, 1970

*Johnny Winter - Vocals, Guitar
*Rick Derringer - Vocals, Guitar
*Randy Jo Hobbs - Vocals, Bass
*Randy Zehringer - Drums