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Johnny Winter - Woodstock Experience


The 40th anniversary of Woodstock has become a symbol of what the original flower power children despised: an effigy of capitalism burning the green out of wallets.

The recordings of sets by Janis Joplin, Sly And The Family Stone and Santana have been released in their entirety. Despite the roughness of these recordings, they capture these artists at their zenith. Janis is a bit of a struggle to listen too. Southern Comfort and assorted illegal goodies don't always bring out the best in people.

Because guitar gods Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and Alvin Lee reigned supreme at this festival, other players got easily overlooked. If you didn't see them in the film or hear their music on the original vinyl recordings, you wouldn't know of them at all.

Thanks to the folks at the Columbia label, we are treated to Johnny Winter: The Woodstock Experience.

Long before Stevie Ray Vaughan came around, Texan Johnny Winter was igniting audiences with a brand of blues-rock that went down well with the hippies, draft resisters and blues lovers of the countercultural era.

The Woodstock Experience is a double cd package. The first album is included here. With drummer Uncle John Turner and bassist Tommy Shannon, this music has withstood the test of time. There's the nasty bottleneck trashcan sound in "Dallas."

But it's the Woodstock appearance that listeners want to hear. And when they hear it, they wonder how did Winter get ignored?

There's only eight songs. Johnny's set clocks in at little more then an hour because numbers are stretched to ten minutes or more. Original composition "Mean Town Blues" gets a guitar slinger workout. Younger brother Edgar turns up to guest on a smoke layered "Tobacco Road." His keyboard and saxophone are muddled in the mix. You don't lose any sleep especially when Johnny tears into the good time rocker of "Johnny B. Goode."

The Woodstock set was mixed by legendary producer Eddie Kramer whose resume includes working with Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and other legendary acts.

It's too bad that 40 years had to pass and that the anniversary of a mythic event finally saw brought to life a release by an artist who was a leading figure in the blues renaissance.

Review by Gary "Wingman" Weeks

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