Guitar Slinger is an album by guitarist and singer Johnny Winter. Released in 1984, it was his first studio album in four years, and his first album for Alligator Records. Guitar Slinger was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album.
The music of Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell continues to reveal inner secrets, as this engaging set by dummer Paul Motian and his Electric Bebop Band shows. The group's name of the group is a function of the two electric guitars (Kurt Rosenwinkel and Steve Cardenas) and the electric bass (Steve Swallow), although the remaining members are strictly acoustic (tenor saxophones Chris Cheek and Chris Potter and, of course, drummer Motian). The arrangements are entirely respectful of the compositions, although liberties are taken with tempo and harmony. The results are more than satisfactory, if somewhat conservative, with the solos passed about generously. Motian again reveals his ability to kick and burn, as well as play sensitively, reaffirming his place among the greatest jazz drummers.
At its best, Samira Winter’s Ethereality recalls the songwriting of Weezer’s blue album and the feeling of Last Splash-era Breeders and Malkmus’s pop distortions. On the song “Blue Eyes, ” she even explores some of the terrain mapped by Beach House. Utilizing soaring, anthemic dynamics and universally relatable topics of young adult insecurities and struggle, she’s pushing the limits of her guitar playing and stretching the conventional confines of what a pop song is supposed to be. It’s easy to describe this as “dreamy” or “sun-drenched” pop … but there’s something more elusive happening. While this album might seem easy to interpret at first, repeated visits reveal a melancholy undercurrent masked by bright arrangements. Really, Ethereality is based on an artful examination of post-millennial emotional confusion.
After two stellar sets for the independent blues label Alligator Records, Johnny Winter wisely changes things up on his third Alligator LP. He brings in Dr. John to play organ on "Love, Life and Money" and, more prominently, piano on "Tin Pan Alley." He plays a National steel guitar on "Bad Girl Blues" (a blues about lesbians!) and uses his slide with another National on "Evil on My Mind." And, most significant, he reunites with his old rhythm section of bass player Tommy Shannon and drummer Uncle John "Red" Turner (with whom he played from the late ‘60s to 1970) on "See See Baby," "Shake Your Moneymaker," and "Broke and Lonely." Particularly on those three tracks, he sounds like the blues-rock singer/guitarist who garnered so much attention when he first emerged from Texas as an "overnight" national star in 1969. Those days have passed, but Winter has matured into a dependable blues musician able to shine in a variety of styles and bring out the best in his fellow musicians.