Saturday, 14 May 2016

"Second Winter: Legacy Edition" by JOHNNY WINTER (2004 Columbia/Legacy 2CD Remaster) - A Review for Mark Barry...

"...Been A Long Time Coming..."

Winter's third album – the impossibly cool "Second Winter" (a 3-sided 2LP set where Side 4 was left blank deliberately) was his second platter for Columbia Records and delivered on the Boogie promise of his May 1969 label debut "Johnny Winter" (both vinyl treasures I've had on my turntables for over 45 years). I never in my wildest dreams thought Sony would afford "Second Winter" a 'Legacy Edition' 2CD set – yet they have – and they've come up with a fan-pleasing barnstormer into the axe-wielding bargain. Here are the fret-burning details...

UK and Europe released 18 October 2004 (August 2004 in the USA) - "Second Winter: Legacy Edition" by JOHNNY WINTER on Columbia/Legacy COL 511231 2 (Barcode 5099751123125) is a 2CD Remaster housed in a Stickered Plastic Outer Slipcase and plays outs as follows:

Disc 1 - "Second Winter" (55:13 minutes):
1. Memory Pain [Side 1]
2. I'm Not So Sure
3. The Good Love
4. Slippin' And Slidin' [Side 2]
5. Miss Ann
6. Johnny B. Goode
7. Highway 61 Revisited
8. I Love Everybody [Side 3]
9. Hustled Down In Texas
10. I Hate Everybody
11. Fast Life Rider
Tracks 1 to 11 are his 3rd studio album "Second Winter" - released 27 October 1969 in the USA as a 3-sided 2LP set on Columbia KCS 9947 and January 1970 in the UK on CBS 66321 (Side 4 was left blank on purpose). Produced by Johnny Winter – it peaked at No. 55 in the USA (December 1969) and made No. 59 in the UK (May 1970).

BONUS TRACKS (Previously Unreleased):
12. Early In The Morning
13. Tell The Truth (Instrumental)

JOHNNY WINTER – Lead Vocals, Guitars & Mandolin
EDGAR WINTER – Piano, Organ, Harpsichord & Alto Sax
TOMMY SHANNON – Bass (except DENNIS COLLINS on “Good Love”)
"UNCLE" JOHN TURNER – Drums & Percussion

Disc 2 (72:10 minutes): "Live At The Royal Albert Hall 17 April 1970" – All Tracks PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
1. Help Me
2. Johnny B. Goode
3. Mama Talk To Your Daughter
4. It's My Own Fault
5. Black Cat Bone
6. Mean Town Blues
7. Tobacco Road
8. Frankenstein
9. Tell The Truth

MUSICIANS for the Live Set:
JOHNNY WINTER – Lead Vocals, Electric and Slide Guitar
EDGAR WINTER – Saxophone, Keyboards and Vocals (Lead on "Frankenstein", Co-Lead with Johnny on "Tell The Truth")

The 24-page Colour booklet features unpublished photos from the period, ANDY ALEDORT liner notes (Associate Editor for ‘Guitar World’ magazine) that include interviews with Johnny and Edgar Winter as well as the live band members who played the Royal Albert Hall show in April 1970 featured on Disc 2 – Bassist Tommy Shannon and Drummer John Turner. Each of the see-through CD trays features blue and white photos (in keeping with the original artwork) underneath the CDs.  JERRY RAPPAPORT produced the Legacy Edition while JOSEPH M. PALMACCIO did the overall Mastering. BOB AUGER recorded and mixed the Live set - produced for 2004 release by JERRY RAPPAPORT.

Some album covers are so damn cool – and “Second Winter” is one of them. Richard Avedon’s double-imaged picture is the very stuff of something simple turned into something great – that flying white hair suggesting guitar ecstasy – something fluid – like his playing. The album opens with a Percy Mayfield cover version – the wonderful “Memory Pain” – a hit for Mayfield way back in 1964 on Tangerine Records. Right from the off you get huge chugging guitar and the Remaster starts to shine. Not to be outdone by old magic – his own “I’m Not Sure” is superb – and introduces layers of keyboards in a Funky Stevie Wonder “Innervisions” kind of way. Bassist Dennis Collins plays once on the album – accompanying himself on his own “The Good Love” which Johnny turns into a rapidly played Rocker. That wicked track is followed by two out-and-out speedball classics – a duo of Little Richard Specialty sides – “Slippin’ And Slidin’” and “Mary Ann”. The piano boogie intro to “Slippin’ And Slidin’” reminds me so much of John Lennon’s version five years later on his 1975 “Rock ‘n’ Roll” album. About one-minute twenty into the piano and sax old time Rock 'n' Roll - Johnny lets rips with the most brilliant guitar solo - fusing the song into something so 1970. His six-minute cover of Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" is a souped-up slide fest but I've never been particularly fond of it.

The immediately impressive "I Love Everybody" turned up on the "Fill Your Head With Rock" CBS Records Double-Album Sampler in 1970 – alerting many a budding kid to his amazing guitar playing and slightly druggy nature (love that giggle at the start). "Hustled Down In Texas" has always been a fave of mine - rip-roaring up and down the frets like an unleashed freight train (you can hear him grunt in the solo). The organ-jazzy "I Hate Everybody" is a rapid-fire hybrid between Georgie Fame scat and Winter's chugging rhythm and the last cut - the seven-minute "Fast Life Rider" is even more experimental - feeling like a Drums and Guitar for much of its duration. Better for me is a Previously Unreleased cover of a Louis Jordan classic "Early In The Morning". The remaster is remarkable - mixed in 2004 by THOM CADLEY at Sony's studios in New York. It's a raucous rocker that would have ended the album better than "Fast Life Rider". That boogie is followed by another cover – this time we’re given the R&B flavored instrumental “Tell The Truth” by Ray Charles – a song the band turns into a 9-minute celebration on the live set (lyrics and all). Both could easily have been slotted onto a Side 4 of the album with some quickly recorded covers thrown in...ah well...

Johnny asks the crowd "...what's happening..." as he begins the live set. Immediately you're hit by the sheer power of his band and that incredible playing. The drums and bass of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Help Me" are spot on with the vocals maybe a little too far back. Things really start to jump with his Chuck Berry fave "Johnny B. Goode" where he assures the pleased audience that 'he played his guitar just like ringing a bell' - and indeed he did. J.B. Lenoir's cautionary tale "Mama Talk To Your Daughter" boogies even more - the band cooking by now. He brings it down to some real power Blues with B.B. King's "It's My Own Fault" - eleven and half minutes of fabulous Rock-Blues from a master player. His own "Black Cat Bones" livens things up considerably with some sensational slide playing but that's as nothing to the brilliant Bo Diddley chug of "Mean Town Blues" that bops along like ZZ Top for a full eleven minutes. We get all jerky motion and Cream with their cover of "Tobacco Road" - a fantastic organ and guitar spectacle with rapped vocals from Edgar that very cleverly leads into the big one - a 9-minute "Frankenstein". The single would sit on top of the American charts in instrumental form in April 1973 (Epic 10967). Even though there are only four of them onstage - they seem to be making the racket of six. Drummer Turner gets his solo during "Frankenstein" which admittedly goes on a tad - but it ends on that huge riffage (no keyboards yet). They finish up with a crowd-pleasing "Tell The Truth" - a bopper that sees Johnny let rip while Edgar joins him on the verses and some rapid-fire scat.

Like many I suspect - I used to take Johnny Winter albums for granted. But since his sad passing I can't seem to get enough of him and his astonishing playing. Dreadful puns aside - there's no Johnny Winter of discontent here folks...

PS: If you want more - check out his late Seventies collaborations with MUDDY WATERS on Blue Sky Records which feature Winter producing and playing on all (see the 3CD "Original Album Classics" box set). See also my review for the "Woodstock Experience" version of "Johnny Winter" his debut for Columbia Records in 1969. It comes with a superb bonus disc of period live material and beautiful packaging including a poster (see reviews)...

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