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Second Winter (Legacy Edition)

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Album Review

Second Winter, Johnny Winter's second album for Columbia, originally had the distinction of being the only album in rock history that was a three-sided double LP. Musically, 35 years after its original release, Second Winter is still an oddity. Issued by Sony's Legacy division, the set has been painstakingly remastered, and expanded by bonus cuts and an entire disc of live material. It's too bluesed-out to be a pure rock record, and too psychedelically dimensioned to be a pure blues album. Tommy Shannon calls it "power blues." And as for whatever else passed for blues-rock at the time — Cream, Hendrix, Canned Heat, etc. — forget it. This set is a whole different animal. Cut in Nashville with all tracks begin done within one or two takes, the energy of Second Winter is undeniable. The sheer range of styles Winter assaulted in his restless quest is astonishing too. The set begins with a blues-funk cover of Percy Mayfield's classic "Memory Pain," that adds a wealth of rock sonics to the mix. The same goes for the gritty originals like "I'm Not Sure," with its screaming electric mandolin, and the album's closer "Fast Life Rider." The latter two are textured with Edgar's stellar piano work. Then there's the album's centerpiece, the signature cover of Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" with its burning, gut bucket slide work and Winter's bona fide revival of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode." Trad Delta blues makes its appearance here as well in "I Love Everybody," as does jump jazz in "I Hate Everybody," both of them with Winter's raucous edge. The original album is buoyed here with a pair of bonus tracks, an instrumental version of Ray Charles' "Tell the Truth," as well as the jump blues classic "Early in the Morning." Disc two in the set is an entire unreleased concert from the Royal Albert Hall in 1970 with the same band The show is a monster showcasing all the fiery craziness of Winter's nearly unbelievable guitar mastery on tracks such as "Mean Town Blues," "Black Cat Bone," "It's My Own Fault," "Tobacco Road," and "Johnny B. Goode." It is also significant for the early performance of Edgar's classic, "Frankenstein" — it's a very different, and preferable — version than the one recorded in the studio. All in all, fantastic sound, an excellent package, and good notes by Andy Aledort make this a welcome addition to the classic rock canon.


Born: 23 February 1944 in Beaumont, TX

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

When Johnny Winter emerged on the national scene in 1969, the hope, particularly in the record business, was that he would become a superstar on the scale of Jimi Hendrix, another blues-based rock guitarist and singer who preceded him by a few years. That never quite happened, but Winter did survive the high expectations of his early admirers to become a mature, respected blues musician with a strong sense of tradition. He was born John Dawson Winter III on February 23, 1944, in Beaumont, Texas,...
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