This 1969 album is one of Johnny Winter's best and bluesiest.
Here he is at 25, backed by Tommy Shannon (Stevie Ray Vaughan's bass player in the 80s), drummer John Turner, and occationally his brother Edgar (Winter's brother, not Turner's!) on piano and saxophone. Chess stalwart Willie Dixon even pays a visit, as does harmonica ace Walter Horton who blows the harp on a great "Mean Mistreater".
While most every other white blues singer in the late 60s was trying to make the blues more palatable to the mainstream pop audience by toning it down a little, Winter makes no concessions to pop sensibility at all. His guitar playing is pure and savage, yet he never resorts to meaningless shredding, and his prowess on the acoustic slide guitar is impressive...just listen to his self-penned "Dallas", a perfectly authentic slice of Delta blues.
This exquisitely remastered 2004 reissue also adds three bonus tracks, including a slightly longer version of the aforementioned "Dallas" which finds Winter backed by bass and harmonica (the version originally issued is a solo performance). "Country Girl" is a gritty mid-tempo boogie, and "Two Steps From The Blues" is a surprisingly sleek, soul-flavoured rendition of the Bobby "Blue" Bland number. It clashes a bit with the rest of the album, but it also gives Johnny Winter a chance to show off his abilities as an R&B-crooner.
There is barely a weak track on this fine record. Contained here is some of the best and certainly most authentic blues ever recorded by a white bluesman, and "Johnny Winter" is the perfect introduction to the albino guitarist, as well as being one of his two or three best albums. And this expanded edition features a newly written essay in addition to the original liner notes, as well as the best sound ever.
4 1/2 stars - highly recommended.