Friday, March 17, 2017

Johnny Winter - 1974 - Saints And Sinners

Johnny Winter
Saints And Sinners

01. Stone County 3:31
02. Blinded By Love 4:32
03. Thirty Days 3:01
04. Stray Cat Blues 4:18
05. Bad Luck Situation 2:51
06. Rollin' 'Cross The Country 4:29
07. Riot In Cell Block #9 3:11
08. Hurtin' So Bad 4:41
09. Boney Moronie 2:38
10. Feedback On Highway 101 4:27

Johnny Winter - guitar, harmonica, vocals
Edgar Winter - synthesiser, keyboards, alto saxophone, vocals
Rick Derringer - synthesiser, guitar, bass guitar
Bobby Caldwell - percussion
Randy Jo Hobbs - bass guitar
Randy Brecker - trumpet
Louis del Gatto - tenor saxophone
Lani Groves - vocals
Carl Hall - vocals
Dan Hartman - guitar, bass guitar, drums, vocals
Richard Hughes - drums
Barbara Massey - vocals
Alan Rubin - trumpet
John Smith - saxophone
Tasha Thomas - vocals

An absolutely fabulous album by Johnny Winter. I am bit surprised at the relatively low average rating of this album as I find Saints and Sinners to be one of his best early albums. Although Winter still draws heavily from rock and roll, this album is markedly more bluesy than Still Alive and Well and Johnny Winter And.... The usual Winter album format still applies; he writes and includes a few tracks, but fills the majority of the album with various covers. Expect wonderful melodies, great improvements on the cover tracks over their original versions, and Winter's usual passionate rhythm and solo guitar. Eddie Winter plays a large role on this album as well. He can be heard playing organ or piano on multiple tracks as well as providing backing vocals and a few sax solos.

The melodic content on Saints and Sinners is wonderful. Johnny's late sixties and early seventies albums solidified him as a master of multiple genres, not just blues rock as he branched into soul, rock, psychedelic rock, and blues rock. This album adds another to his list: southern rock. Saints and Sinners opens with the glorious anthem "Stone Country," a highly underrated southern rock track complete with Dickey Betts sounding guitar and a multiple voice providing light harmony throughout the track. Winter includes yet another Rolling Stones cover, "Stray Cat Blues" and again breaths life into a track that The Stones failed to fully develop. His own creations on this album are much better than most of his early songwriting efforts. "Bad Luck Situation" is one of his more famous tracks, contains one of the best rhythm riffs on the album, and has a great solo section. Winter's other creation, "Hurtin' So Bad" is a more slow rock/pop track, but is wonderful as well. Remastered issues of this album come equipped with the third Winter creation, "Dirty," an absolutely filthy track with guitar, vocals and flute. Although Still Alive and Well introduced the flute to the Winter repertoire, the instrument sounds so perfect on "Dirty" - the light, airy sounds of the flute contrast sharply with dark and sinister lyrics (eg. "I'm gonna make a change for the better baby, I'm gonna kill my goddamn wife").  Other highlights on Saints and Sinners include "Blinded By Love," Edgar Winter's creation "Rollin' 'Cross the Country," and the witty "Bony Moronie."

Although the album is incredibly strong, I am not able to get into his Chuck Berry cover of "Thirty Days," which has an incredibly annoying multiple voice chorus and "Riot In Cell Block #9," a blues track that has been played to death over the last forty years by a host of different artists. Fans of Winter's earlier, more bluesy tracks should really enjoy what Saints and Sinners has to offer. The majority of the covers are wonderful and his own blues tracks are among his finest. I enjoy this more than most of his other albums and perhaps slightly more than his praised Second Winter. Great album, all the way down to the awesome album cover.

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