JOHNNY WINTER: True To The Blues: The Johnny Winter Story (4CD Box)

This new 4-CD box set includes 56 tracks spanning Winter’s entire major-label career from 1968 to the present day (his most recent album having been released in 2011).  Though the two-time Grammy Award nominee is looking back with this comprehensive retrospective, he’s still very much an active artist, and will mark his birthday with a special February 23 performance at New York’s B.B. King’s Blues Club and Grill.

“If it was not for Johnny Winter,” said Joe Perry of Aerosmith, “I would have never picked up the guitar!” Perry’s testimonial is one of nearly 20 that accompany the box set.  Others paying tribute to the blues-rock icon include Pete Townshend, 2013 Kennedy Center Honoree Carlos Santana, Gregg Allman, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Mountain’s Leslie West, Mark Knopfler, Charlie Daniels and others.

“When Johnny Winter was signed to CBS Records in February 1969, the sum paid to him was a record for a solo signing to the label: $600,000.00. Winter, who hailed from Texas, represented the vanguard of American blues-rock. Jimi Hendrix was riding high in ’69 with his psychedelic blues, and the idiom had been co-opted by any number of British guitar-slingers, too, but Winter brought his own virtuosic sound. Like his brother and frequent collaborator Edgar, Winter was born with albinism, and encouraged from an early age to immerse himself in music. Winter found an affinity with the great bluesmen, something that translated to his gutsy, howling, soulful reinterpretations of classic blues standards.”

Plenty of those can be sampled on True to the Blues.  The chronologically-sequenced (in order of recording, not release) box draws from 27 albums originally released on labels including Liberty/Imperial, Columbia, Blue Sky/Epic, Alligator, Point Blank/Virgin, Friday Music, Collectors’ Choice Music, Megaforce and Legacy.  These range from his independently recorded and released The Progressive Blues Experiment of 1968 (“Bad Luck and Trouble,” “Mean Town Blues”) up through the 2011 duets album, Roots (“Maybelline” with Vince Gill, “Dust My Broom” with Derek Trucks).  Gill and Trucks aren’t the only luminaries to appear on the new box.  Mike Bloomfield (himself being feted with an upcoming Legacy box set) introduces Winter to the Fillmore East audience at a “Super Session” gig with Al Kooper.  New Orleans’ own Dr. John appears on a 1991 performance of “Illustrated Man,” and a 1992 version of Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” from Dylan’s 30th Anniversary Concert in New York City is featured on which Winter is joined by G.E. Smith, Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Anton Fig, and Jim Keltner.  Needless to say, Edgar Winter appears on numerous tracks on vocals and a plethora of instruments, while Johnny also teams with blues heroes such as Willie Dixon (from 1969) and Muddy Waters (from 1977).

Among the rare tracks included, True to the Blues presents music from the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival.  Tracks from the concert – which also featured Poco, The Chambers Brothers, The Allman Brothers Band and Mountain – were released by Columbia as the 3-LP set The First Great Rock Festivals of the Seventies – Isle of Wight/Atlanta Pop.  “Mean Mistreater” appears from that never-before-on-CD box, along with two more previously unreleased cuts from the concert, “Eyesight to the Blind” and “Prodigal Son.”

True To The Blues: The Johnny Winter Story was produced by Jerry Rappaport, and executive produced by Paul Nelson, Johnny’s guitarist and manager. The compilation was mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Mark Wilder at Battery Studios in New York.  Guitar World editor-in-chief Brad Tolinski supplies new liner notes to round out the package; Tolinski also wrote the notes for The Essential Johnny Winter and for previous releases by artists as diverse as AC/DC and Charlie Christian. (Theseconddisc)

CD 1

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

CD 2

  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)
  5. Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo
  6. Guess I’ll Go Away
  7. On The Limb
  8. It’s My Own Fault (Live)
  9. Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Live)
  10. Good Morning Little School Girl (Live)
  11. Mean Town Blues (Live)

CD 3

  1. Still Alive and Well
  2. Rock Me Baby
  3. Rock & Roll
  4. Rollin’ ’Cross The Country
  5. Hurtin’ So Bad
  6. Bad Luck Situation
  7. Self Destructive Blues
  8. Sweet Papa John
  9. Rock & Roll People
  10. Harlem Shuffle (Live with Edgar Winter)
  11. Bony Moronie (Live)
  12. Roll With Me (Live)
  13. Tired Of Tryin’
  14. TV Mama
  15. Walkin’ Thru The Park (with Muddy Waters and James Cotton)
  16. I Done Got Over It (live, with Muddy Waters and James Cotton)

CD 4

  1. One Step at a Time
  2. Honest I Do
  3. Nickel Blues
  4. Talk Is Cheap
  5. Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
  6. Bon Ton Roulet
  7. Don’t Take Advantage of Me
  8. Master Mechanic
  9. Mojo Boogie
  10. Stranger Blues (Live)
  11. Illustrated Man (with Dr. John)
  12. Hard Way
  13. Highway 61 Revisited (Live)
  14. Maybelline (featuring Vince Gill)
  15. Dust My Broom (featuring Derek Trucks)

CD 1, Tracks 1-2 from The Progressive Blues Experiment (Liberty LP-12431, recorded 1968, released 1969)
CD 1, Tracks 3-4 from Fillmore East: The Lost Concert Tapes 12/13/68 (Columbia/Legacy 85278, recorded 1968, released 2003)
CD 1, Tracks 5-8 from Johnny Winter (Columbia 9826, recorded and released 1969)
CD 1, Track 9 from The Woodstock Experience (Columbia/Legacy 88697 48244 2, recorded 1969, released 2009)
CD 1, Tracks 10-13 from Second Winter (Columbia 9947, recorded and released 1969)
CD 1, Tracks 14-15 from Second Winter: Legacy Edition (Columbia/Legacy 85735, recorded 1970 at The Royal Albert Hall, London, released 2004)
CD 2, Tracks 1 & 3 previously unreleased, recorded July 5, 1970 at Atlanta Pop Festival, outtakes from The First Great Rock Festivals of the Seventies – Isle of Wight/Atlanta Pop
CD 2, Tracks 2 & 4 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)
CD 2, Tracks 5-7 from Johnny Winter And (Columbia 30221, recorded and released 1970)
CD 2, Tracks 8-9 from Johnny Winter And/Live (Columbia 30475, recorded 1970 at Pirate’s World, Dania, FL, released 1971)
CD 2, Tracks 10-11 from Live At The Fillmore East 10/3/70 (Collectors’ Choice 60002, recorded 1970, released 2010)
CD 3, Tracks 1-3 from Still Alive And Well (Columbia 32188, recorded and released 1973)
CD 3, Tracks 4-6 from Saints & Sinners (Columbia 32715, recorded 1974, released 1975)
CD 3, Tracks 7-9 from John Dawson Winter III (Blue Sky 33292, recorded and released 1974)
CD 3, Track 10 from Together (Blue Sky 34033, recorded 1975 at Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA, released 1976)
CD 3, Tracks 11-12 from Captured Live! (Blue Sky 33944, recorded 1976 at San Diego Sports Arena and Oakland Coliseum, released 1976)
CD 3, Tracks 13-15 from Nothin’ But The Blues (Blue Sky 34813, recorded and released 1977)
CD 3, Track 16 from Breakin’ It Up, Breakin’ It Down (Columbia/Legacy 88697 07283 2, recorded 1977 at Masonic Temple Theatre, Detroit, released 2007)
CD 4, Tracks 1-3 from White, Hot & Blue (Blue Sky 35475, recorded and released 1978)
CD 4, Tracks 4-6 from Raisin’ Cain (Blue Sky 36343, recorded 1979, released 1980)
CD 4, Track 7 from Guitar Slinger (Alligator 4735, recorded and released 1984)
CD 4, Track 8 from Serious Business (Alligator 4742, recorded and released 1985)
CD 4, Track 9 from 3rd Degree (Alligator 4748, recorded and released 1986)
CD 4, Track 10 from Live Bootleg Series Vol. 3 (Friday Music 1085, recorded late 1980s, released 2008)
CD 4, Track 11 from Let Me In (Pointblank 91744-2, recorded and released 1991)
CD 4, Track 12 from Hey, Where’s Your Brother? (Pointblank 0777 7 86512 2 2, rec. and rel. 1992)
CD 4, Track 13 from Bob Dylan – The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (Columbia 53230, recorded 1992 at Madison Square Garden, released 1993)
CD 4, Tracks 14-15 from Roots (Megaforce 1603, recorded and released 2011)

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