Fans should be prepared to be thrilled by the CD and DVD of Johnny Winter with Dr John, Live in Sweden 1987. Both are worthy additions for any Winter fan, but this review will focus on the DVD. Until we invent actual machines to do it, a release like this is the best kind of time travel we have.
If you start a discussion about who was the best blues man, you are going to get some intense arguments. But if you ask who was the best blues man out of Texas, a lot of people will say Johnny Winter. He was playing blues when almost no other popular musician was. His albinism gave him an exotic look, too, and he was smart enough to embrace it. The combination of talent and stage presence made him immensely popular for many years,
In 1987 Winter was at his peak. His backup band (John Paris on bass and Tom Compton on drums), were so good that they deserved a lot more credit than they generally received. The Swedish TV program presented on this DVD shows them at their best.
Consider Dr. John a bonus. He joins about halfway through and, except for the fantastic version of his song “Love Life and Money,” he does not contribute vocals. However, with his phenomenal keyboard skills he fits in perfectly with the band.
The sound is better than you would expect from a vintage television show. of the time. In fact, it is very decent. There are seven songs plus a bonus track from 1972, “Prodigal Son.” Seven songs may not sound like many but all of the songs are over five minutes long and two are over 10 minutes. The absolute standout track is “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” which is so hot that it is a wonder it didn’t set the studio on fire!
Live in Sweden 1987 is a fascinating DVD to watch. The only slight drawback is that it is in square, 1.33:1 format and not widescreen. There are wide black bands on each side of the picture, a result of the broadcast standards of its era. It may take a moment to get used to that, but the picture is not distorted. It is fun to watch Winter make that incredible music on a tiny Lazer guitar and the interaction between all of these musicians is fascinating. The same music is available on the CD as the DVD, but because Winter, Dr. John, and the band are all so compelling in concert I recommend the DVD if you only buy one.