During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s Johnny Winter, 1944-2014, helped fuse the blues with rock and roll. He quickly established himself as a high level guitar technician whose fingers could virtually fly as they crafted his signature sound. His career gradually morphed him into one of the premier blues musicians of the last 50 years.
The 1990’s and the years leading to his death were somewhat musically inconsistent but during the late 1980’s he was at the height of his powers. A seven song set, recorded in Sweden during 1987, has been resurrected under the title Live In Sweden 1987. The nearly one hour of music finds Winter backed by the rhythm section of bassist/harmonica player John Paris and drummer Tom Compton. The real treat is the addition of Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame musician Dr. John, whose gritty vocals and thumping New Orleans piano style bring some new dimensions to Winter’s traditional sound.
The first three tracks, “Sound The Bell,” “Don’t Take Advantage Of me,” and “Mojo Boogie” find Winter at his scintillating best. The songs have a length to them, which allows Winter to strtch out and explore the various melodies.
“You Lie Too Much,” “Sugar Sweet,” and “Love Life And Money: find Winter stepping back and sharing the stage with Dr. John. They rotate the vocals and Dr. John’s piano provides a nice counterpoint to Winter’s guitar.
Everything is brought to a close with an energetic “Jumping Jack Flash,” which has been a Winter staple since the late 1960’s.
The sound is excellent for music that has been in the vaults for nearly 30 years. The only negative is the lack of any liner notes whatsoever.
Live In Sweden is a nice artifact of not only Johnny Winter but also of a unique concert where he shares the stage with an equally talented musician.