RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Johnny Winters – True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story

Rating: A

The world lost a true master of the electric guitar in 2014 when Johnny Winters passed away.  While the box set reviewed here was actually release early in 2014 to celebrate Winter’s 70th birthday, Classic Rock Revisited felt that this is the perfect Christmas gift for any of Johnny’s fans, so we are revisiting the release here. 

Some of Johnny’s fans are pretty famous, and they came out with praise that can be found in the amazing liner notes of this, the first chronological track sequence box set to ever be release.  "If it was not for Johnny Winter," said Joe Perry of Aerosmith, "I would have never picked up the guitar!"  Joe is not alone, as the pages in the booklet are filled with the same sentiment over and over again by such major stars as Eddie Van Halen, Angus Young, Pete Townshend, Carlos Santana, Steven Tyler, Billy Gibbons, Joe Satriani, Derek Trucks, Gregg Allman, Leslie West, Vince Gill, Glenn Tipton, Mark Knopfler, and many more.  "A lot of people play the blues," said Charlie Daniels, "but there's only a handful who can reach deep into the music and make it real.  Johnny Winter can take you on a ride.  Juke-joints and cotton fields, rotgut whiskey and back alley crap games, lowdown, lonesome, trifling women and hard times.  That's the blues, y'all."

The box set goes from Johnny’s first album in 1968 through his duets album in 2011 and includes a who’s who of guests, including Mike Bloomfield introducing Johnny at the Fillmore East to a jam with on the John Lee Hooker tune “It’s My Own Fault.”  Other guess include Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Edgar Winter, Derek Trucks and Vince Gill among others. 

One notices the word ‘live’ all over the track listing to the box set.  Winter was never better than on-stage in his prime.  He lived a tough life and had many personal demons, but he lived through his music, and this box set shows a true blues master at work.  It is the definitive Johnny Winter product on the market and unless there is something really special still hid in the archives, this one will never be topped.

True To The Blues: The Johnny Winter Story
(Columbia/Legacy 88883 74085 2)

Disc One – Selections: 1. Bad Luck And Trouble (A) - 2. Mean Town Blues (A) - 3. Mike Bloomfield's Introduction Of Johnny Winter (live, B) - 4. It's My Own Fault (live, B) - 5. I'm Yours And I'm Hers (C) - 6. Mean Mistreater (C, with Willie Dixon and Walter "Shakey" Horton) - 7. Dallas (C) - 8. Be Careful With A Fool (C) - 9. Leland Mississippi Blues (live, D) - 10. Memory Pain (E) - 11. Highway 61 Revisited (E) - 12. Miss Ann (E) - 13. Hustled Down In Texas (E) - 14. Black Cat Bone (live, F) - 15. Johnny B. Goode (live, F).

Disc Two – Selections: 1. Eyesight To The Blind (previously unreleased, live at Atlanta Pop Festival, 1970) - 2.Johnny Winter's Intro (live at Atlanta Pop Festival, 1970) - 3. Prodigal Son (previously unreleased, live at Atlanta Pop Festival, 1970) - 4. Mean Mistreater (live, G) - 5. Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo (H)  - 6. Guess I'll Go Away (H) - 7. On The Limb (H) - 8.  It's My Own Fault (live, I) - 9.  Jumpin' Jack Flash (live, I) - 10. Good Morning Little School Girl (live, J) - 11. Mean Town Blues (live, J).

Disc Three – Selections: 1. Still Alive And Well (K) - 2. Rock Me Baby (K) - 3. Rock & Roll (K) - 4. Rollin' 'Cross The Country (L) - 5. Hurtin' So Bad (L) - 6. Bad Luck Situation (L) - 7. Self Destructive Blues (M) - 8. Sweet Papa John (M) - 9. Rock & Roll People (M) - 10. Harlem Shuffle (live, with Edgar Winter, N) - 11. Bony Moronie (live, O) - 12. Roll With Me (live, O) - 13. Tired Of Tryin' (P) - 14. TV Mama (P) - 15. Walkin' Thru The Park (with Muddy Waters & James Cotton, P) - 16. I Done Got Over It (live, with Muddy Waters & James Cotton, Q).

Disc Four – Selections: 1. One Step At A Time (R) - 2. Honest I Do (R) - 3. Nickel Blues (R) - 4. Talk Is Cheap (S) - 5. Wolf In Sheep's Clothing (S) - 6. Bon Ton Roulet (S) - 7. Don't Take Advantage Of Me (T) - 8. Master Mechanic (U) - 9. Mojo Boogie (V) - 10. Stranger Blues (live, W) - 11. Illustrated Man (with Dr. John, X) - 12. Hard Way (Y) - 13. Highway 61 Revisited (live, Z) - 14. Maybelline (featuring Vince Gill, AA) - 15. Dust My Broom (featuring Derek Trucks, AA).

Album index:
A – from The Progressive Blues Experiment (Liberty LP-12431, recorded 1968, released 1969)
B – from Fillmore East: The Lost Concert Tapes 12/13/68 (Columbia/Legacy 85278, recorded 1968, released 2003)
C – from Johnny Winter (Columbia 9826, recorded and released 1969)
D – from The Woodstock Experience (Columbia/Legacy 88697 48244 2, rec. 1969, rel. 2009)
E – from Second Winter (Columbia 9947, recorded and released 1969)
F – from Second Winter: Legacy Edition (Columbia/Legacy 85735, recorded 1970 at The Royal Albert Hall, London, released 2004)
G – from The First Great Rock Festivals Of The Seventies – Isle Of Wight/Atlanta Pop (Columbia 30805, recorded July 5, 1970, at Middle Georgia Raceway, Byron, GA, released 1971, previously unavailable on CD)
H – from Johnny Winter And (Columbia 30221, recorded and released 1970)
I – from Johnny Winter And/Live (Columbia 30475, recorded 1970 at Pirate's World, Dania, FL, released 1971)
J – from Live At The Fillmore East 10/3/70 (Collectors Choice 60002, rec. 1970, rel. 2010)
K – from Still Alive And Well (Columbia 32188, recorded and released 1973)
L – from Saints & Sinners (Columbia 32715, recorded 1974, released 1975)
M – from John Dawson Winter III (Blue Sky 33292, recorded and released 1974)
N – from Together (Blue Sky 34033, recorded 1975 at Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA, released 1976)
O – from Captured Live! (Blue Sky 33944, recorded 1976 at San Diego Sports Arena and Oakland Coliseum, released 1976)
P – from Nothin' But The Blues (Blue Sky 34813, recorded and released 1977)
Q – from Breakin' It Up, Breakin' It Down (Columbia/Legacy 88697 07283 2, recorded 1977 at Masonic Temple Theatre, Detroit, released 2007)
R – from White, Hot & Blue (Blue Sky 35475, recorded and released 1978)
S – from Raisin' Cain (Blue Sky 36343, recorded 1979, released 1980)
T – from Guitar Slinger (Alligator 4735, recorded and released 1984, Grammy®-nominated)
U – from Serious Business (Alligator 4742, recorded and released 1985, Grammy®-nominated)
V – from 3rd Degree (Alligator 4748, recorded and released 1986)
W – from Live Bootleg Series Vol. 3 (Friday Music 1085, recorded late 1980s, released 2008)
X – from Let Me In (Pointblank 91744-2, recorded and released 1991)
Y – from Hey, Where's Your Brother? (Pointblank 0777 7 86512 2 2, rec. and rel. 1992)
Z – from Bob Dylan – The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (Columbia 53230, recorded 1992 at Madison Square Garden, released 1993)
AA – from Roots (Megaforce 1603, recorded and released 2011)

By Jeb Wright