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.
After two late-'60s albums on Columbia, Johnny Winter hit his stride in 1970 working with Rick Derringer and the McCoys, now recruited as his sidemen and collaborators (and proving with just about every note here how far they'd gotten past "Hang on Sloopy"). In place of the bluesy focus on his first two albums, Winter extended himself into more of a rock-oriented mode here, in both his singing and his selection of material. This was hard rock with a blues edge, and had a certain commercial smoothness lacking in his earlier work. Derringer's presence on guitar and as a songwriter saw to it that Winter's blues virtuosity was balanced by perfectly placed guitar hooks, and the two guitarists complemented each other perfectly throughout as well.
Legendary Johnny Winter releases his latest studio album entitled 'Roots'. This album returns Johnny to his roots by paying homage to the blues heroes whose pioneering music influenced Winter's own iconic signature sound and style. A host of special guests join Winter in trading licks in honoring Winter's idols. Including Sonny Landreth, Vince Gill, Warren Haynes, John Popper, Jimmy Vivino, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, John Medeski and Johnny's brother Edgar Winter and among others. Produced by Paul Nelson "Root's" represents a veritable history of the Blues through it's modern day interpretations of songs by the genre's most famed elder statesmen performed by some of today's largest musical talents.
With this concert, Johnny Winter brings to the Jazzaldia Festival in Spain the brand of intense, rootsy, virtuoso blues that has been his trademark since he began his career in the 1960's. For this how, Winter mixes blues and R&B classics like "Hideaway", "Miss Ann" and "Blackjack" with his own songs, as well as a virtuoso take on the well-loved Jimi Hendrix blues "Red House". and he closes the show wiith his famous, searing rendition of "Highway 61 Revisited".