Friday, March 17, 2017

Johnny Winter - 1978 - White, Hot And Blue

Johnny Winter 
White, Hot And Blue

01. Walkin' By Myself 3:28
02. Slidin' In 5:04
03. Divin' Duck 3:27
04. One Step At A Time 3:58
05. Nickel Blues 3:33
06. E-Z Rider 4:00
07. Last Night 5:35
08. Messin' With The Kid 2:53
09. Honest I Do 4:12

Johnny Winter - guitar, harmonica, vocals
Edgar Winter - keyboards, saxophone, vocals
Bobby Torello - drums
Isaac Payton Sweat - bass
Pat Rush - guitar
Pat Ramsey - harmonica
Tom Brock - mandolin

The seventies was a good decade for Johnny Winter. His fame grew throughout the decade and although perhaps faded a bit in the final years, he still carried a great head of steam into the eighties. His accomplishments are great; Woodstock (albeit 1969), Woodstock reunion, successful tag team with Rick Derringer, work with blues giants such as Muddy Waters and James Cotton, and numerous successful singles, most notably "Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo." White Hot & Blue is his sixth and last studio album Winter would produce in the seventies and one of the bluesiest as well. Late seventies gem, Nothin' but the Blues, saw a renaissance with Winter's style, returning to a more classic blues sound with lots of slide guitar and less rock influence. Its successor, White Hot & Blue, follows the same lead but in a slightly more electric fashion. Sadly, many of his fans at the time were not interested in him playing the blues, but rather the rock and roll tracks that propelled his career earlier that decade (this is easily heard when listening to most any bootleg Johnny Winter concert in the last 1970s - the restless crowd often demanding "Jumping Jack Flash" or "Johnny B. Goode"). However, if you enjoy blues music, this album is very worthwhile. Although just as bluesy as his 1968 and 1969 albums, White Hot & Blue lacks the heaviness and raw electric charge present on these albums. Do not get me wrong, this album is heavier than Nothin' but the Blues, but does not sound as course as his earlier work. Instead, his guitar playing and his vocals sound far more mature and relaxed.

White Hot & Blue opens about as strong as any of Winters other seventies material. All five A side tracks are strong with "Slidin' In" and "Divin' Duck" being the best of the bunch. This is a bit surprising as "Walkin' By Myself" opens the album with kind of a childish guitar melody. I will say that this album does take a bit of time to fully blossom. These five tracks are no exception. However, with enough listens, one picks up on the little things that add so much personality to the tracks, "Walkin' By Myself" included (a great, unexpected slide near the end of the track). Check out the lyrics on "Slidin' In." I believe these to be some of the best Winter has ever created. He has a great way of sounding both witty and deadly serious and this track is a perfect example. This also appears on the great "Nickel Blues."

Unfortunately, the momentum that the album builds on the A side does not carry over to the B side and prevents the album from the 4.5 rating that I wish I could give it. "E.Z. Rider" and "Last Night" are both decent and very much in the flavor of the A side tracks, but the following two tracks are a bit misplaced. The melody on "Messin' With the Kid" is a bit annoying for me, but is otherwise passable, but "Honest I Do" has not business being on this album. First and foremost, this track is by no means terrible. In fact, I really enjoy it. However, it is more in the spirit of Johnny's late sixties pre-soul pop work and sticks out among the other eight blues rock tracks, ruining the consistency of the album.

Despite the few flaws that White Hot & Blue may have, I enjoy this album with spirited gusto. There are few Winter albums I have enjoyed as much as this album. Being similar to John Dawson Winter III, expect great blues rock with little to no seventies pop influence. This is just Johnny doing what he wants to do. Luckily for blues fans, he does what he does very well. Sad that this album is not more recognized than it is... I love this damn record.



  2. Thank you! Amazing guitarist.