Although Johnny Winter And — the band the Texas blues guitar legend briefly fronted with fellow guitarist/vocalist Rick Derringer — only made two records together, many regard this group as one of the highlights of Winter's career.
1971's Live Johnny Winter And album in particular has often been cited as a favorite among longtime Winter fans, as well as with classic rock aficionados in general — due mainly to the group's smoldering cover of the Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash."
Although the band itself was short-lived, Winter and Derringer continued to collaborate off and on for several years, most notably on Derringer's most famous tune, "Rock And Roll Hootchie Koo." Derringer also played in several of brother Edgar Winter's bands during the seventies.
As part of a series of newly unearthed live concerts from this period being issued by Collectors Choice Music (the series also features artists ranging from Hot Tuna and Poco to John Denver) comes Live At The Fillmore East 10/3/70, a previously unheard live performance from none other than Johnny Winter And.
Although many of the tracks featured here like "Good Morning Little School Girl," "Its My Own Fault" and "Mean Town Blues" can already be heard on 1971's previously released Live Johnny Winter And, this new album is still noteworthy for a couple of reasons.
For one, it features a ferocious version of Derringer's "Rock And Roll Hootchie Koo" that spotlights some rather dazzling guitar interplay between Winter and Derringer.
If you close your eyes for a minute, you can actually hear the seeds of the sort of dual-guitar interplay that launched a million southern-rock bands later on in the seventies. The chemistry between guitarists Winter and Derringer is undeniable, and a good argument could be made based on this recording that Winter never again found a foil quite like Derringer — at least within the context of a blues-rock band.
But speaking of the blues, this is still the area where Winter himself most shines as a guitarist. Nowhere is this more evident than on the 22-minute "Its My Own Fault." Listening to this track today, in retrospect, it's clear that the blues was where Winter's true musical heart lied even way back then. It's not at all surprising that's the direction he eventually embarked upon as a full-time career choice following a brief flirtation with arena rock in the mid-seventies. Winter's playing on this track is quite simply stunning, and once again features some more fine interplay with Derringer.
But since this was the seventies, a Johnny Winter And concert was also expected to rock. Which they do most convincingly here on Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited," the well-chosen rock and roll cover which occupies the "Jumpin' Jack Flash" spot on this set.
For those reasons, Live at The Fillmore East 10/3/70 makes a fine companion to the last live Johnny Winter And album from 40 some-odd years ago. Consider it a nice, if somewhat belated, gift from that old friend you've been meaning to visit again for awhile now.