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. Winter plays here in a trio with his late-sixties band. Several blues artists are covered including B.B. King ("It's My Own Fault"), Sonny Boy Williamson ("Help Me"), and Slim Harpo ("I Got Love If You Want It").
Johnny Winter begins Raisin' Cain, his ninth studio album since signing to CBS Records in 1969 (his records are now issued on the Blue Sky subsidiary), with "The Crawl," a rock & roll dance tune, and he ends it with "Walkin' Slowly," which employs a Fats Domino-style New Orleans rhythm and the saxophone work of Tom Strohman. The two songs serve to reinforce Winter's allegiance to his roots in ‘50s rock, which define him as much as his blues work. In between these bookends, he presents his usual mixture of familiar cover songs and specially written (by others, that is) material, all of which serves, as usual, to showcase his fast-fingered lead guitar playing. His slide guitar dominates "Sittin' in the Jail House," for example, while much of the disc's second side is played in a Chicago blues style that recalls his recent efforts as producer to give Muddy Waters a late-career renaissance, notably the side-opening performance of Waters' "Rollin' and Tumblin'." A notable inclusion is a cover of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone".
Johnny Winter returns to major-label distribution for the first time in eight years with The Winter of '88, released by Voyager Records via MCA. This is a project produced and engineered by Terry Manning, who also contributed some keyboards, and Manning's intent seems to have been to move Winter in a more commercial direction, specifically toward the synth-enhanced boogie of ZZ Top. That effect is particularly notable on the lead-off track, "Close to Me," and on "Show Me"; otherwise, Manning is more subtle. Still, after three straight blues albums for the independent Alligator Records label, Winter had established a pure blues pedigree, and a move back toward the mainstream may not sit well with his more purist fans. It isn't really that overt, for the most part, but this is clearly a more highly produced, more commercially intended record than any Winter has made since he left the CBS Records subsidiary Blue Sky after Raisin' Cain in 1980.
On the classic 1972 live album Roadwork, Edgar Winter immortalized the words, when introducing brother Johnny: "Everybody asks me…where's your brother?" It's a question that fans have besieged both Winters with for over two decades, and now Johnny gets a chance to return the tribute with his latest. Edgar does in fact guest on the sessions, blowing sax and tinkling keys on a few tracks, and dueting with big bro on a superb, seasonal rendition of "Please Come Home for Christmas".
With a fast, gritty, and furious slide and electric guitar style, Johnny Winter fused the blues to its rock nephew and became a white guitar legend (an albino one, no less, further adding to his stage allure) with his albums and live performances in the 1970s. This set collects some of the best of those performances at shows played between 1969 and 1977, including soaring versions of Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited," the Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash," and Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode," all of which helped set the stage for later guitar slingers like Stevie Ray Vaughan and others.