Thursday, March 16, 2017

Johnny Winter - 1971 - Johnny Winter And - Live

Johnny Winter 
Johnny Winter And - Live

01. Good Morning Little School Girl 4:35
02. It's My Own Fault 12:14
03. Jumpin Jack Flash 4:26
04. Rock & Roll Medley (6:46)
Great Balls Of Fire
Long Tall Sally
Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On
05. Mean Town Blues 8:59
06. Johnny B.Goode 3:22

Recorded live at various locations during the fall of 1970 including the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York, and Pirate's World in Dania, Florida.

Johnny Winter - vocals, guitar
Rick Derringer - vocals, guitar
Randy Jo Hobbs - vocals, bass
Bobby Caldwell - drums, percussion

Released during the 1970's, a decade known for decadence and super over-dubbed double live albums. So what does good ol' Johnny Winter decide to do? Release a single live album jam packed with more covers than originals. What was he thinking, right? I mean he could have totally cashed in on a double release. But then again Johnny was never one to do what others expected. That's part of what made him and this release so great.

What we have here is the short lived Johnny Winter And band, and live. A collection of recordings taking from one of the tours the band did while the great (and horribly underrated) Rick Derringer was still playing dual guitar with Johnny.

Opening with 'Good Morning Little School Girl' it just sets the tone. You can tell this is going to be a good time all the way through the album. Following is an amazing extended version of B.B. King's 'Its My Own Fault' which in my book Winter had already made his own in the studio, and than manages somehow to all over again make it his own here. The guitar solo and interplay between Winter and Derringer here is nothing short of breath taking.

So not only did Winter take Bob Dylan's uber-classic 'Highway 61' and do the same to it that Hendrix did to 'All Along The Watchtower' but he had the nerve to try it again here with the even more classic Rolling Stones cut 'Jumping Jack Flash.' It just might rival the original version. In fact I'm sure it does.

Moving on the audience is treated to a free trip down memory lane with a medley of early rock n' roll classics which as far as I'm concerned blows the originals out of the water. Roll over Jerry Lee!

'Mean Town Blues' just cooks but sort of serves as the calm before the storm that is the closing number. A rousing version of Chuck Berry's immortal 'Johnny B. Goode.'

Johnny Winter And...Live is a raw and stellar live performance from one of the all time greats and vital to any blues/blues rock or Winter collection.

Johnny Winter - 1970 - About Blues

Johnny Winter 
About Blues

01. Parchman Farm 2:42
02. Livin' The Blues 2:39
03. Leavin' Blues 2:48
04. Thirty-Eighty, Thirty-Two, Twenty 2:16
05. Bad News 2:40
06. Kind Hearted Woman 3:40
07. Out Of Sight 2:22
08. Low Down Gal Of Mine 3:07
09. Going Down Slow 4:39
10. Avocado Green 2:30

About Blues is one of the first compilation albums of Johnny Winter, covering the period 1960-1968, this while Johnny was touring in Texas

Together with the album "Early Times" this was one of earliest compilation albums with songs performed during the 60s

Unauthorised material that has been reissued numerous times throughout Johnny's career (much to his disgust) by producer Roy C. Ames under various titles with different cover art.

A cash in by Ames to profit off of Winter's famous signing with Columbia Records. Hardly a proper representation of Winter's guitar prowess.  Mainly of interest for Johnny Winter fans/ completists as an insight to his early recordings pre- stardom.

Johnny Winter - 1970 - Johnny Winter And

Johnny Winter
Johnny Winter And

01. Guess I'll Go Away
02. Ain't That A Kindness
03. No Time To Live
04. Rock And Roll Hootchie Koo
05. Am I Here?
06. Look Up
07. Prodigal Son
08. On The Limb
09. Let The Music Play
10. Nothing Left
11. Funky Music

Johnny Winter – vocals, guitar,
Rick Derringer – vocals, guitar
Randy Jo Hobbs – bass
Randy Zehringer – percussion

Johnny Winter And... completes the rock transition the group started with the release of Johnny Winter. The music heard on this album is blues sprinkled rock music; quite a difference from the raw, 'in-your-face' blues found on The Progressive Blues Experiment. To solidify the change, following Second Winter, the group would break up and Winter would enlist the guitar talents of Rick Derringer, Randy Hobbs replacing Tommy Shannon, and Randy Z (Ricks' brother) replacing Uncle John Turner. As a result, the vocal duties and guitar duties are shared between Winter and Derringer. Purists of the Winter sound may voice their complaints about this addition, but the presence of a second guitar does allow for more complex songwriting. I will agree that not hearing Winter's unique, gritty vocals on every track does take a bit of getting used to.

The group's previous albums have been a mixture of tracks written by Winter and various blues rock covers. The addition of Derringer results in the group's most original album with the duo largely splitting the songwriting duties on Johnny Winter And.... The new drum specialist, Randy Z, even gets in the songwriting action with the psychedelic rock track, "Am I Here?." As far as rock music is concerned, this album is moderately solid and includes the top 40 hit "Rock & Roll, Hoochie Koo," Derringer's lone top 40 hit. One will not find the slow blues tracks that frequented the first three Winter albums, but there are a few decent slower rock tracks including "No Time to Live" and "Let the Music Play." Throughout the album, lengthy guitar solos have been replaced with more verse-chorus-verse style music. As a result, the tracks are more uniform on Johnny Winter And... than any of the previous albums; no lengthy blues epics, no prolonged soloing, and much more vocally and lyrically dependent.

Johnny Winter's first collaboration with lil' Rick Derringer, the eleven song Johnny Winter And, is a smokin' recording of hot blooze, rock, a few sobering cuts. Leading off with the raucous "Guess I'll Go Away", and featuring the Derringer penned "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo", as well as "Let the Music Play" and "Am I Here?", Johnny and the boys laid it down with confidence from the confines of the studio for the early '70s LP.

Johnny Winter - 1969 - First Winter

Johnny Winter
First Winter

01. Bad News 2:47
02. Leavin' Blues 2:36
03. Take A Chance On My Love 2:23
04. Easy Lovin' Girl 1:28
05. I Had To Cry 1:56
06. Birds Can't Row Boats 2:58
07. Out Of Sight 2:05
08. Coming Up Fast Part I 2:32
09. Coming Up Fast Part II 2:30
10. Parchman Farm 2:26
11. Please Come Home For Christmas 2:39

"The First Generation: Rock/Blues/Early Soul"

On the labels, the artist is listed as "Johnny Winters".

Music labels have always thrived on taking advantage of changing public tastes.   1969's "First Winter" is a perfect example of that concept.

Johnny Winter and his younger brother Edgar had been working and recording since the early 1960s.  Johnny's first album saw daylight in 1968.  Released on the small Austin-based Sonobeat label, "The Progressive Blues Experiment" the album helped Winter generate some national attention.  His big break came in December 1968 when he was invited to perform a song at a Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper concert at New York's Fillmore East.  Impressed by the audience's response to his cover of B.B. King's 'It's My Own Fault', Columbia signed him to a recording contract (reportedly offering him a then stunning $600,000 advance).

Winter's Columbia 1969 debut "Johnny Winter" and the follow-up "Second Winter" sold well and caught the attention of lots of other labels who clearly saw an opportunity to cash-in on his sudden commercial success.   Imperial Records acquired rights to the earlier "The Progressive Blues Experiment" album, re-issuing it nationally.   Art Kass' Buddah label did their part to climb onboard the Johnny Winter bandwagon with the release of 1969's "First Winter".   First a word of warning - anyone attracted to Winter's blues-rock sound was probably going to be appalled by this collection.   And another warning - a couple of these songs aren't really Winter solo efforts.  While it's a great song and Winter wrote and played on it,, 'Coming up Fast' was a tune credited to Roy Head's backing band The Great  Believers.  Similarly, Winter guesting on The Traits' single 'Parchment Farm'.  Those technicalities aside, the majority of these eleven tracks seem to have come from two primary sources; early-'60s material recorded with Home Cooking Records owner/producer Roy Ames and mid-'60s material recorded with famed New Orleans producer Huey P. Meaux.  With the exception of the country-blues number 'Leavin' Blues', this isn't your typical collection of hardcore blues and nobody should buy it expecting to hear that kind of stuff.  Instead it stands as a haphazard compilation of early and highly varied material.  The collection has stabs at '50s ballads ('I Had To Cry'), blue-eyed soul ('Easy Lovin' Girl'), garage ('Comin' Up Fast'), and even folk-rock (the instrumental 'Take a Chance On My Love').  And here's the funny part of the story - this album is actually really good.  Yeah, I can hear the blues purists screaming bloody murder.  But, if you're not a blues purist, this one will come as a major and enjoyable surprise.

I'm guessing it wasn't a collection Winter was particularly proud of, but I found it interesting this album didn't even show up on Winter's website discography:

"First Winter" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Bad News   (J.D. Loudermilk) - 2:47
I was expecting to hear this J.D. Loudermilk tune done as a standard blues number.  Yeah, that meant plodding and completely forgettable.   Darn, talk about misplaced expectation.  Winter turned it into a joyous tribute to bad behavior, but "bad" in the same way the cookie Monster is a nasty character.  Yeah, this is blues, but blues for folks who don't like the blues with Winter turning in a vocal that is bound to make you smile.  Buddah actually released the tune as a single:
- 1970's 'Bad News' b/w 'Out of Sight' (Buddah catalog number BDA 168)     rating: **** stars
2.) Leavin' Blues   (Johnny Winter) - 2:36
A more conventional slice of country-blues, but the acoustic slide guitar opening was stunning and the tune actually got better as it went along.  The man could play !!!    Only complaint was the song faded out just as Winter started to burn on slide guitar.   The tune was originally the 'B' side on the 1966 single 'Birds Can't Row Boats' rating: **** stars
3.) Take a Chance On My Love (instrumental)   (Johnny Winter) - 2:23
Opening up with Church organ, lysergic bass and Byrds-styled guitar, 'Take a Chance On My Love' was a totally unexpected slice of psychedelic-jangle rock.  Clearly from early in his career and cool as all.  Imagine a James Bond theme song for an audience stoned out of their collective minds.   rating: **** stars
4.) Easy Lovin' Girl   (Johnny Winters) - 1:28
I've always loved Roy Head's pop-soul version of the song and was surprised to hear Winter's version - to my ears the two sound almost identical.   Seriously, after a beer or tow you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference.    Interestingly Johnny and brother Edgar both played with head which may explain the song's background  Another curiosity -  Heads' cover credited the song to "W. Thompson" while it was shown as a Winter original on this album.   Regardless, it was a killer slice of blue-eyed soul with a nice fuzz guitar and xylophone solo.   rating: **** stars
5.) I Had To Cry   (Roy Ames - Scott - Mathis) - 1:55
How many folks would recognize this '50s feeling ballad as a Johnny Winter effort?   Seriously unexpected tune that's obviously from way early in his recording career - supposedly Huey Meaux produced sessions recorded in New Orleans in 1962 or 1963.  The most amazing thing about this ballad was Winter's young voice.  Who would have ever thought he had such a sweet and vulnerable edge?   Extra star just for its historical value.   rating: *** stars6.) Birds Can't Row Boats  (Johnny Winters) - 2:58
Released as a 1966 single by the small Texas-based Pacemaker label, 'Birds Can't Row Boats' is another tune that will likely surprise Johnny Winter the blues man fans.  As if you wouldn't have guessed from the song title, this was an early slice of  psych ...   Personally I love this lysergic jangle-rock tune.
- 1966's 'Birds Can't Row Boats' b/w 'Leavin' blues' (Pacemaker catalog number PM-243   rating: **** stars

(side 2)
1.) Out of Sight  (T. Right) - 2:05
Another tune that will come as a shock to the man's blues fan base ...   Winter channeling  James Brown !!!   For a 20 year old white guy (LOL), Winter sounded surprisingly impressive.  Always loved the punchy horns on this one.   rating: **** stars
2.) Coming Up Fast (Part I)   (Johnny Winter) - 2:32
3.) Coming Up Fast (Part II)   (Johnny Winter) - 2:30
Driven by a killer fuzz guitar and one of the most amazing solos you'll ever hear, these two blue-eyed soul side were my favorite performances. Technically they weren't even Winter solo efforts, rather reflected a 1965 outing by Roy Head and hit backing band The Great Believers (which happened to feature Johnny and Edgar).  Note that the liner notes didn't even get the song titles right -looking at the original single, there was no 'g' at the end of 'Comin''. Awesome performance and five decades later parents are still complaining about the subject.  The two sides were released as a 1965 single on Huey P. Meaux’s Cascade Records:
- 1965's 'Coming Up Fast (Part I)' b/w 'Coming Up Fast (Part I)' (Cascade catalog number 365)    The song gets an extra star just for Johnny's fuzz guitar solo.   rating: ***** stars
4.) Parchment Farm   (M.J. Allison) - 2:26
'Parchment Farm' was another tune with a tentative link to Winter.  The song was actually by The Traits who'd backed Roy Head on a bunch of his recordings.  Released as a hyper rare 1967 single on the Houston-based Universal label (reportedly only 300 copies were pressed), this was their only stab at a recording without Head.  As for the Winter link; well he provided the killer lead guitar solo (not sure if he was responsible for the nifty little nod to The Beatles 'I Feel Fine').
- 1967's 'Parchment Farm' b/w 'Tramp' (Universal catalog number U-30496)  rating: ***** stars
5.) Please Come Home for Christmas  (Brown - Red) - 2:39
Johnny and Edgar - amazingly sweet version of this classic tune ...  Would give The Neville Brothers    a run for their money.   rating: **** stars

A huge surprise. For the most part, my introduction to Johnny Winter follows the order of his major releases starting with The Progressive Blues Experiment. Due to the relative obscurity of First Winter, it took awhile for me to finally grab a copy. If you have not heard this album, but have heard plenty of early Winter, this album will be a bit of a shock. You will be able to pick out both Winter's voice and guitar playing throughout the album, but do not expect near as much blues and blues rock as his subsequent albums. First Winter is a bizarre collection of blues songs, psychedelic rock songs, pre-soul songs (yes, soul is present here), and slower, sixties style rock and roll (the cover certainly hints at the psychedelic nature of the album). The odd thing is that the songs fall into these categories with little to no overlap between genres. As a result, the transitions between tracks is rough and the album as a whole is somewhat disconnected. Poor transitions aside, Winter completely rocks. Sure, the tracks are all extremely short and the entire album is under thirty minutes, but the content is loaded with catchy rhythms and melodies I like to think of as musical tapas. There are a few bluesy tracks here to entertain the Winter faithful, but also expect to enjoy at least a few of his other psychedelic or sixties rock tracks.

Unlike Winter's other early albums, he takes on the majority of the songwriting here. The A side is incredibly solid and highlighted by Winter's two psychedelic creations "Birds Can't Row Boats" and "Take a Chance on My Love." The first of these two features acid inspired lyrics and Bob Dylan sounding delivery. The second is the albums only instrumental track. "Leavin' Blues" is the bluesiest track on First Winter and most similar to his later creations. The B side, although not as solid, has a few gems as well. The early soul classic "Out of Sight" is wonderful as Winter's two other covers on this side, "Parchment Farm" and "Please Come Home For Christmas." The last of these is probably my favorite track on this album and one of the only Christmas themed songs I can still listen to and not throw up. The albums only flop is Winter's one-two combination "Coming Up Fast Part I-II." I cannot stand the vocal delivery or the lyrics during this (thankfully) short set of songs. Some of the tracks do seem one or two verses too short, which is my only other complaint - "Easy Lovin' Girl" at 1:28???

I was surprised that there were not a great deal of blues rock tracks on First Winter, but I was also surprised at the effectiveness of the non blues tracks. Winter certainly does not unleash the fury of his guitar playing as he does starting on The Progressive Blues Experiment, but his vocals are mostly spot on and filled with both talent and emotion. This album is a nice departure for Johnny Winter fans and does offer plenty for casual listeners of multiple genres (blues, rock, early soul, psychedelic rock). Many of the tracks found here can also be found on later compilation releases such as the 1988 release Birds Can't Row Boats. Indeed, Buddah Records for the win.

Johnny Winter - 1969 - Second Winter

Johnny Winter 
Second Winter

101. Memory Pain 5:27
102. I'm Not Sure 5:18
103. The Good Love 4:38
104. Slippin' And Slidin' 2:43
105. Miss Ann 3:04
106. Johnny B. Goode 3:45
107. Highway 61 Revisited 5:07
108. I Love Everybody 3:50
109. Hustled Down In Texas 3:31
110. I Hate Everybody 2:35
111. Fast Life Rider 7:05
112. Early In The Morning 3:47
113. Tell The Truth [Instrumental] 4:30

Live At Royal Albert Hall (1970-04-17)

201. Help Me 4:59
202. Johnny B. Goode 3:41
203. Mama Talk To Your Daughter 5:16
204. It's My Own Fault 12:00
205. Black Cat Bone 5:38
206. Mean Town Blues 11:12
207. Tobacco Road 11:05
208. Frankenstein 9:11
209. Tell The Truth 9:08

Bass – Tommy Shannon (tracks: A1, A2, B1 to C4)
Piano, Organ, Harpsichord, Alto Saxophone – Edgar Winter
Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin – Johnny Winter

Second Winter is the third studio album by Texas blues guitarist Johnny Winter, released in 1969. The original plan was to edit the songs from the recording session into one album but it was later thought that all the recordings were good enough to be released. The album was released as a "three-sided" LP, with a blank fourth side on the original vinyl. Two more songs, "Tell the Truth" and "Early in the Morning" were left unfinished but released on a 2004 re-release of the album.

Second Winter is Winter and company's third solid album in a string of classic last sixties and seventies blues rock works. This album initially sounds more pop/rock influenced than either of the groups previous works. This is largely due to the large amount of covers, many of which being softer rock tracks. A few of the tracks such as "Miss Ann" have the same sixties pop/rock flavor as "I'll Drown in My Tears" from Johnny Winter. Winter's only original contribution on the first two sides of this album is "I'm Not Sure." Of course he does exercise a far amount of creativity in many of the altered covers, most notably the amped up version of Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited." Side C does collect four Winter originals and is accompanied by a bizarrely blank D side. Although not as groundbreaking or as entrenched in heavy blues music as The Progressive Blues Experiment, Second Winter does showcase many of the great qualities fans of guitar based blues rock are interested in. It goes without saying that the guitar solos are fantastic, but I also love how the bass is brought out despite the dominating guitar. Shannon and Winter often play the same melody ("Fast Life Rider" is a great example of this) and the heavy bass, along with the guitar really drive the melody home. With the varying covers, original music, and different musical styles, Second Winter is a jumbled mess of an album that seems to somehow sounds great.

Of the first two sides, fans of heavier blues rock should appreciate "Memory Pain" and perhaps "The Good Love." The cover of "Johnny B. Goode" can be heard on many subsequent live albums for obviously reasons. It carries a great solo, but carries essentially the same melody and feel as Berry's original. Eddie Winter plays a larger role throughout this album with his sax and piano work. The sax is especially important in duplicating the pop sound of "Miss Ann" and "Slippin' and Slidin'." Although the first two sides are very good, it is the last four tracks that vault this album to another level. I love the contrast between "I Love Everybody" and "I Hate Everybody," "Hustled Down in Texas" has a great fast blues tempo, and "Fast Life Rider" is a fantastic seven minute blues jam. "Fast Life Rider" is my favorite track on Second Winter. The main theme at the beginning and end of this track is one of my favorites across any genre. I mentioned the guitar-bass unison earlier, but take note of the primal sounding drum rhythm that carries through most of the tracks expressive and lengthy solo.

Winter and company's first three albums follow a nice progression; changing slightly with each release. Second Winter is less bluesy than Johnny Winter, but every bit as engaging and entertaining. Depending on your taste, some of the covers may not be as solid as the rest of the album, but there should be plenty for any fan of blues rock.

Johnny Winter - 1969 - Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter 
Johnny Winter

01. I'm Yours And I'm Hers 4:27
02. Be Careful With A Fool 5:15
03. Dallas 2:45
04. Mean Mistreater 3:53
05. Leland Mississippi Blues 3:19
06. Good Morning Little School Girl 2:45
07. When You Got A Good Friend 3:30
08. I'll Drown In My Tears 4:44
09. Back Door Friend 2:57

Johnny Winter – lead guitar, slide guitar, harmonica, vocals
Uncle John Turner – percussion
Tommy Shannon – bass

Edgar Winter – keyboards on "I'll Drown in My Tears", alto saxophone on "Good Morning Little School Girl"
Elsie Senter – backing vocals on "I'll Drown in My Tears"
Carrie Hossel – backing vocals on "I'll Drown in My Tears"
Peggy Bowers – backing vocals on "I'll Drown in My Tears"
Stephen Ralph Sefsik – alto saxophone on "I'll Drown in My Tears"
Norman Ray – baritone saxophone on "I'll Drown in My Tears"
Walter "Shakey" Horton – harmonica on "Mean Mistreater"
Willie Dixon – acoustic bass on "Mean Mistreater"
Karl Garin – trumpet on "Good Morning Little School Girl"
A. Wynn Butler – tenor saxophone on "Good Morning Little School Girl"

Johnny Winter is Johnny Winter's second studio album, released in 1969. UK CBS issued this with nine tracks in late 1969 in both stereo and mono (S63619/M63619). This album may have been intended as a Quadraphonic album as a four-channel reel was prepared but to this day remains unreleased.

Blessed with a precocious passion for the Blues, after having had the chance of jamming with iconic figures such as B.B.King and of hanging around for over ½ a decade with his arguably mentor Michael Bloomfield, who had famously organized an impromptu audition by inviting him up on stage so that he could exhibit  his skills in front of a group of recording industry’s executives as documented  on [Albumx]“Live at the Fillmore – the lost tapes”, the young Johnny Winter was finally and deservedly given the opportunity to record under his own name.

Johnny took care of the production himself with assistance from the iconic Eddie Kramer; he gathered a nuclear trio, christened Winter for the occasion, with future SRV side man Tommy Shannon on bass and seasoned drummer “Uncle” John Turner , whereas Johnny himself spread his talent on the electric guitars, the slide guitar, the Blues harp and of course the voice; additional assistance was used on some tracks but it was this power trio, the ultimate expression of electric Blues passion,  which set the basic foundation for the album.

This was one of those LPs which established the emergence of a new guitar wizard: Johnny alternates between all too natural boosts of exuberance, technically challenging playing, machine-gun riffs fired like blinding lightning flashes and expressions of heartfelt emotional statements, so genuine he seemingly  inadvertently finds himself dialoguing with his guitar licks, with spontaneous vocal interjections; a couple of acoustic cuts attest how he needs no electricity to express his true devotion to the genre, namely on the impassioned version with overdubbed resonator guitar of Robert Johnson’s “When You Got a Good Friend”; couple that with his real Blues shouter attitude, albeit one occasionally feels he still has a couple of rough edges to smooth out – although this genuineness makes the whole thing even more appealing-, plus the ability to pen his own numbers, be it greasy, organic Texan Blues such as “Leland Mississippi Blues”, powerful, hard-hitters wrapped in a web of pyrotechnical licks and riffs such as the opener “I’m Yours and I’m Hers” or the total solo- no overdubs – resonator driven “Dallas”.

Tracks with Willie Dixon on acoustic bass and Walter “Shakey” Horton on Blues Harp (“Mean Mistreater”), the majestic take on “I’ll Drown in My own Tears” in true Al Kooper tradition and decidedly a competitor to Joe Cocker’s version, the band enlarged with backup vocal harmonies, brother Edgar Winter on piano  and a four-men horn section, or the fiery “Good Morning Little School Girl” with Edgar switching to alto, plus A.Wynn Butler on tenor and Karl Garin on trumpet, are telling evidences that an all-around Blues stylist, one who feared no challenges was born.

Johnny Winter - 1968 - The Progressive Blues Experiment

Johnny Winter
The Progressive Blues Experiment

01. Rollin' And Tumblin' 3:09
02. Tribute To Muddy 6:20
03. I Got Love If You Want It 3:52
04. Bad Luck And Trouble 3:43
05. Help Me 3:46
06. Mean Town Blues 4:26
07. Broke Down Engine 3:25
08. Black Cat Bone 3:46
09. It's My Own Fault 7:20
10. Forty-Four 3:28

Bass – Tommy Shannon
Drums – Red Turner
Lead Guitar – Johnny Winter

The Progressive Blues Experiment is the debut album by Johnny Winter. The Progressive Blues Experiment was originally issued on Austin's Sonobeat Records label in 1968. When Winter signed to Columbia Records, the rights were sold to Imperial Records who reissued the album in 1969.

A masterpiece and yet another classic from the era of classics - the late sixties. The Progressive Blues Experiment is the best Johnny Winter album I have heard (there are a TON of them) and has a very good shot at my top ten blues rock albums of all time (insert Kanye West joke here - thanks Sporcle). Although Winter was active before this release with various small groups and also produced First Winter, this album is considered his first major release. What makes The Progressive Blues Experiment so wonderful is the way it captures not only early Johnny Winter, but also the revolutionary way he and his band approached the blues. There certainly were blues rockers prior to Winter hitting the stage, but I can think of no one that had the musical package he possessed. Johnny plays with extreme amounts of passion, his guitar playing is in a realm that only a few people in 1968 were in, his phrasing is delicious, and his fusion of gritty vocals with his playing is electrifying. Often using long, drawn out vocal yells and vocal-guitar unison, he was able to establish a sound no one has duplicated since. Of course, all of these qualities carry over to Winter's subsequent albums, but The Progressive Blues Experiment has a unique blend of raw energy, talent, and great blues melodies. It should also be noted that Tommy Shannon (will later play in Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble) mans the bass here at the tender age of 23.

There are so many goodies here. "Rollin' and Tumblin'" opens with the most infectious melody on the album. I remember the first time I listened to it and thinking, 'wow, this is the late sixties???' This album is more than just a rock em' sock em' blues engine, Johnny whips out some fantastic slow slide guitar on two of the tracks: "Bad Luck and Trouble" and "Broke Down Engine." Both of these tracks are in the stripped down, traditional blues style and the latter of these two is just acoustic slide guitar and Johnny, no one else. If I could only recommend one track on this album, it would have to be Winter's cover of "It's My Own Fault." The track is over seven minutes in length, features amazing solos, catchy melodies, and one of the best endings I have heard to a blues rock track in a long time. Perhaps taking inspiration from Beethoven, the track sounds like it could end anytime around 6:15, but just keeps going and develops into sort of a battle between voice and guitar to try and outdo the other. More than a minute later and numerous vocal and guitar licks, the track concludes. If there was a complaint with this album, it would be that slightly more than half of the tracks are covers.

Winter obviously has a trained voice, but forcibly abuses it to achieve the intensity he desires on some of the tracks. The Progressive Blues Experiment is shockingly raw at times, the guitar is sloppy at others, and the vocals sound somewhat out of control. However, this all adds to the greatness that is Johnny Winter. As the recording manager stated, 'Before the recording session, there was Johnny Winter and his guitar. During the session, Johnny became the guitar.' This statement makes perfect sense after listening to this album. There are not many blues rock albums out there that exert this amount of intensity. As mentioned before, this album is on my short list of all-time blues rock masterpieces and should be coveted by any blues rock or rock fan.