Johnny Winter, ‘True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story’ (Columbia/Legacy)
This terrific collection is a primer of all things Johnny Winter (who celebrated his 70th birthday in February), drawing on tracks that span over 40 years.
The main reason this four-CD set is so comprehensive is that unlike a typical “best of” compilation, which usually features the work an artist has recorded for one label, “True to the Blues” has work originally released by eight different labels, as well as two previously unreleased live tracks.
Live material is a key component in the set, and rightly so, for a compelling performer like Winter, who burns his way through classic rock ‘n’ roll covers like “Bony Maronie,” his own stellar interpretation of “Highway 61 Revisited” as performed at Bob Dylan’s 1992 30th anniversary celebration, and sizzling originals like “It’s My Own Fault.”
A musician of Winter’s caliber also attracts equally notable talents to his side, and you’ll find them popping up all over “True to the Blues,” including Michael Bloomfield, Dr. John, and Rick Derringer, as well as some of the very blues musicians that inspired Winter in the first place, Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters.
It’s a fun ride through Winter’s career that will leave you thoroughly steeped in the blues.