Dick Heckstall-Smith – Blues And Beyond (2001)

FrontCover1Richard Malden Heckstall-Smith (26 September 1934 – 17 December 2004) was an English jazz and blues saxophonist. He played with some of the most influential English blues rock and jazz fusion bands of the 1960s and 1970s.

Dick Heckstall-Smith was born in the Royal Free Hospital, in Ludlow, Shropshire, England,[2] and was raised in Knighton, Radnorshire, learning to play piano, clarinet and alto saxophone in childhood. He attended a York boarding school but refused a second term there, instead enrolling in Gordonstoun, where his father had accepted a job as headmaster of the local grammar school.

Heckstall-Smith completed his education at Dartington Hall School, before reading agriculture – and co-leading the university jazz band – at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, from 1953. Aged 15, he had taken up the soprano sax while at Dartington, captivated by the sound of Sidney Bechet. Then Lester Young and tenor saxophonist bebop jazzman Wardell Gray proved to be major influences for him.

DHS01Heckstall-Smith was an active member of the London jazz scene from the late 1950s (including a six-month stint from December 1957 with the band led by clarinettist Sandy Brown). He joined Blues Incorporated, Alexis Korner’s groundbreaking blues group, in 1962, recording the album R&B from the Marquee. The following year, he was a founding member of that band’s breakaway unit, The Graham Bond Organisation. (The lineup also included two future members of the blues-rock supergroup Cream: bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker.)

In 1967, Heckstall-Smith became a member of guitarist-vocalist John Mayall’s blues rock band, Bluesbreakers. That jazz-skewed edition of the band also included drummer Jon Hiseman, bassist Tony Reeves, and future Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor. They released the album Bare Wires in 1968.

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From 1968 to 1971, Heckstall-Smith, Hiseman, and Reeves were members of the pioneering UK jazz-rock band Colosseum. The band afforded Heckstall-Smith an opportunity to showcase his writing and instrumental virtuosity, playing two saxophones simultaneously.

When Colosseum broke up in October 1971, Heckstall-Smith recorded solo albums and fronted and played in several other fusion units, including Manchild, Sweet Pain, Big Chief, Tough Tenors, The Famous Bluesblasters, Mainsqueeze, and DHSS. Collaborating musicians common to many of these outfits included Victor Brox, Keith Tillman and harp player John O’Leary, a founder member of Savoy Brown. In the 1980s in his Electric Dream ensemble Heckstall-Smith also worked with the South African percussionist Julian Bahula. From 1983 to 1986 Heckstall-Smith was a member of 3-Space with John James (guitar), fellow Mainsqueeze member Dave Moore (keys), and Chris Billings (bass), with Paul Harris on keys for one tour. Apart from tenor and soprano sax, Heckstall-Smith also played baritone sax in 3-Space.

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Heckstall-Smith participated in a 1990s reunion of the original Colosseum lineup and played in the hard-working Hamburg Blues Band. In 2001 he recorded the all-star project Blues and Beyond, which reunited him with Mayall, Bruce, Taylor, ex-Mayall and Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green.

Heckstall-Smith published his witty memoirs, The Safest Place in the World, in 1984; an expanded version, retitled Blowing the Blues, was published in 2004. He died aged 70 in 2004, as a result of acute liver failure. (wikipedia)

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And is one of his great solo-albums with many of his friends; this album was produced by Pete Brown !

StickerHeckstall-Smith is a great sax player who has played in some of the most important and influential bands in rock and blues history. From Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, to the legendary Graham Bond Organization, to John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. He formed a lot of friendships from these great bands over the years, and on this album he brings a lot of those friends aboard for this very cool project. This is one heck of a reunion. The whose who here includes Peter Green, Jack Bruce, Mick Taylor, Paul Jones, and John Mayall among others. Experienced professionals all, and it shows in the music. Except for Muddy Waters “Rollin and Tumblin” and Helen Reddy’s “Angie Baby”, everything here is Heckstall-Smith originals. I don’t think there is anybody out there who is better at blending together blues, jazz, and rock, with a little R&B, and making it work this good and sound this wonderful. Some of my favorite cuts here are: “Spooky But Nice”, which features the tasty slide guitar of Mick Taylor. The very catchy “Milennium Blues” which features a mannish boy beat and some unusual rhythm changes that you don’t hear everyday.

Liner notes by Pete Brown:
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And “Hidden Agenda”, which features some very strong vocals by Jack Bruce. The only thing I would have hoped to hear more of here is for Smith to have used Peter Green and Bruce to do all the singing on here instead of just their 2 songs. Because the album suffers otherwise from weak vocals throughout. But that’s the only knock I have on this very enjoyable CD. Fans of both jazz and blues should equally enjoy this. Because the main attraction here is still Heckstall-Smith. And his sax playing is outstanding throughout. Very classy stuff. (by Patrick Earley)

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Mr. Heckstall-Smith is sometimes referred to as the father of the blues in England. Forty years ago, Heckstall-Smith joined John Mayall and his Blues Breakers as part of its legendary horn section and stayed on through most of the Jazz/Blues fusion period in the mid 70’s. Heckstall-Smith recently rejoined Mayall for his excellent CD “John Mayall and Friends”.
On this CD, Heckstall-Smith assembles some friends of his own including Mayall, former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor, Led Zepplin’s Paul Jones, the Legendary Peter Green, Jack Bruce and Clem Clemson. The result is an excellent production of 65 minutes of jazzy blues numbers. Even Muddy’s “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” is treated to an interpretation which is jazz infused. Ten original tunes, two interesting covers and lots of fun. If you are looking to broaden your blues collection, start here, you will be pleasently surprised. This is Brithish Blues at its finest. (by deepbluereview)

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Personnel:
Pete Brown (vocals on 06., percussion on 04. + 11.)
Jack Bruce (vocals on 08.)
Clem Clempson (guitar, background vocals on 06.)
Peter Green (guitar, vocals, harmonica on 04.)
David Hadley (bass)
Dick Heckstall-Smith, saxophone, vocals on 10.)
Jon Hiseman (drums on 01.)
Gary Husband (drums on 02. – 11.)
Paul Jones (vocals, harmonica on 01.)
Eddie Martin (slide-guitar on 01.)
John Mayall (piano on 12.)
Rab McCullough (guitar on 03. + 11.,slide-guitar on 10.,  vocals on 02., 03., 05. + 11.)
Dave Moore (keyboards)
Mick Taylor (slide-guitar on: 07.)
Martin Wilde (drums on 12.)
Paul Williams (vocals on 09.)

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Tracklist:
01. Rollin’ And Tumblin’ (Morganfield) 5.06
02. Millennium Blues (Heckstall-Smith/Brown) 5.18
03. Watching Your Every Move (Heckstall-Smith/Hiseman) 5.42
04. Cruel Contradictions (Heckstall-Smith/Brown) 6.47
05. Angie Baby (O´Day) 6.11
06. Grind, Glitch And Snit (Heckstall-Smith/Brown/Moore) 4.44
07. Spooky But Nice (Davies/Heckstall-Smith) 6.14
08. Hidden Agenda (Heckstall-Smith/Brown) 7.59
09. Twilight Shuffle (Heckstall-Smith/Brown) 4.41
10. (Dix WWW) Swamp (Heckstall-Smith) 6.15
11. Big Deal (Heckstall-Smith/Brown) 4.01
12.  If You Know You Don’t Love Me Why In The World Don’t You Leave Me Be? Heckstall-Smith) 6.00

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The Zombies – Odessey And Oracle (1968)

FrontCover1The Zombies are an English rock band formed in 1960 in St Albans and led by keyboardist and vocalist Rod Argent and vocalist Colin Blunstone. The group scored a British and American hit in 1964 with “She’s Not There”. In the US, two further singles—”Tell Her No” in 1965 and “Time of the Season” in 1968—were also successful.[6] Their 1968 album Odessey and Oracle is ranked number 100 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The Zombies were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019

Odessey and Oracle is the second studio album by English rock band the Zombies. It was originally released in the UK in April 1968 by CBS Records.

The album was recorded between June and August 1967. The sessions took place at Abbey Road Studios and Olympic Studios in London. It was received indifferently on release. A single from the album, “Time of the Season”, became a surprise hit in the United States in early 1969.

The album gradually achieved fame and has since become one of the most acclaimed albums of the 1960s. It was ranked 100th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In 2020, the album was ranked 243rd on Rolling Stone’s revised list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It was voted number 637 in Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums.

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Odessey and Oracle was recorded after the Zombies signed a recording contract with the UK CBS label. They began work on the album in June 1967. Nine of the twelve songs were recorded at Abbey Road. “Friends of Mine” was recorded on 1 June, “A Rose for Emily” was started on 1 June and completed on 10 July (take 5 reduction of take 3), “This Will Be Our Year” was recorded on 2 June (take 4) and 15 August (horn overdub), “Hung Up on a Dream” was recorded on 10–11 July (take 7 reduction of take 3), and “Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914)” was recorded on 20 July (take 1). The Abbey Road sessions used the same Studer four track machine used on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

In late July, when Abbey Road was unavailable, the Zombies temporarily shifted base to Olympic Studios where they recorded “Beechwood Park”, “Maybe After He’s Gone” and “I Want Her, She Wants Me”. They returned to Abbey Road in mid-August to record “Care of Cell 44” (take 5 reduction of take 4) and “Brief Candles” (take 10 reduction of take 9) on 16–17 August and “Time of the Season” (August, date unknown). The sessions ended in November and the final track to be recorded was “Changes” (take 5) on 7 November 1967.

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Because the album was recorded to a deadline and tight budget, the Zombies worked quickly in the studio, having rehearsed rigorously beforehand. This meant that there would be no outtakes or unused songs recorded during the sessions. Cello and Mellotron parts were added to “A Rose for Emily” but left out at the final mixing stage.

Colin Blunstone and Paul Atkinson felt disillusioned and tempers flared during the recording of “Time of the Season”. Blunstone was not at all keen on the song. When writer Rod Argent insisted that he sing it a certain way, Blunstone’s patience snapped and he effectively told Argent to sing it himself.[12] Blunstone finally sang the vocal as required.

Argent and Chris White mixed the album down into mono, but when they delivered the master to CBS, they were informed that a stereo mix was required. The recording budget having been spent, Argent and White used their own money to pay for the stereo mix. One major problem arose when it came time to mix “This Will Be Our Year” into stereo. Record producer Ken Jones had dubbed live horn parts directly onto the mono mix. With the horns not having been recorded on the multi-track beforehand, a “re-channeled” stereo mix had to be made of the mono master of this track. The stereo album mix was completed on 1 January 1968.

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Morale within the band was at a low point at the end of the recording. Two singles, “Care of Cell 44” and “Friends of Mine”, had been unsuccessful, and the band had a declining demand for live appearances, so after a final gig in mid-December 1967, the band split up.

The album sleeve contains a short text by Argent quoting William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The misspelling of “odyssey” in the title was the result of a mistake by the designer of the LP cover, Terry Quirk (a friend of White’s). The band tried to cover this up at the time of release by claiming the misspelling was intentional.

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Odessey and Oracle was released in the UK on 19 April 1968. Clive Davis, the head of CBS in the US, initially decided not to release the album. However, the US Columbia label had released the single “Care Of Cell 44” on 21 November 1967 to complete indifference.

CBS staff producer Al Kooper had picked up a copy of the album during a trip to London, and when he returned to America and played the album he loved it. He believed it contained three hit singles. At the urging of Kooper the US division of CBS was eventually persuaded to release the album on the little known Date Records subsidiary label in June.

Paul Weller of The Jam has often named the album as one of his all-time favourites, citing in particular its “autumnal” sound. In 2008, he included “Beechwood Park” in a playlist compiled for a magazine and has also covered “Time of the Season” during various radio sessions. (wikipedia)

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Odessey and Oracle was one of the flukiest (and best) albums of the 1960s, and one of the most enduring long players to come out of the entire British psychedelic boom, mixing trippy melodies, ornate choruses, and lush Mellotron sounds with a solid hard rock base. But it was overlooked completely in England and barely got out in America (with a big push by Al Kooper, who was then a Columbia Records producer); and it was neglected in the U.S. until the single “Time of the Season,” culled from the album, topped the charts nearly two years after it was recorded, by which time the group was long disbanded. Ironically, at the time of its recording in the summer of 1967, permanency was not much on the minds of the bandmembers. Odessey and Oracle was intended as a final statement, a bold last hurrah, having worked hard for three years only to see the quality of their gigs decline as the hits stopped coming. The results are consistently pleasing, surprising, and challenging: “Hung Up on a Dream” and “Changes” are some of the most powerful psychedelic pop/rock ever heard out of England, with a solid rhythm section, a hot Mellotron sound, and chiming, hard guitar, as well as highly melodic piano. “Changes” also benefits from radiant singing. “This Will Be Our Year” makes use of trumpets (one of the very few instances of real overdubbing) in a manner reminiscent of “Penny Lane”; and then there’s “Time of the Season,” the most well-known song in their output and a white soul classic. Not all of the album is that inspired, but it’s all consistently interesting and very good listening, and superior to most other psychedelic albums this side of the Beatles’ best and Pink Floyd’s early work. Indeed, the only complaint one might have about the original LP is its relatively short running time, barely over 30 minutes, but even that’s refreshing in an era where most musicians took their time making their point. (by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Paul Atkinson (guitar, background vocals on 07.)
Rod Argent (keyboards, vocals on 02., 05., 06., 07. + 08., background vocals)
Colin Blunstone (vocals)
Hugh Grundy (drums, background vocals on 07.)
Chris White (bass, vocals on 05. + 10., background vocals)

Zombies05Tracklist:
01. Care Of Cell 44 (Argent) 3.58
02. A Rose For Emily (Argent) 2.20
03. Maybe After He’s Gone (White) 2.34
04. Beechwood Park (White) 2.45
05. Brief Candles (White) 3.31
06. Hung Up On A Dream (Argent) 3.03
07. Changes (White) 3.20
08. I Want Her, She Wants Me (Argent) 2.53
09. This Will Be Our Year (White) 2.09
10. Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914) (White) 2.48
11. Friends Of Mine (White) 2.18
12. Time Of The Season (Argent) 3.34

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Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Free For All (1964)

FrontCover1Arthur Blakey (October 11, 1919 – October 16, 1990) was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. He was briefly known as Abdullah Ibn Buhaina after he converted to Islam for a short time in the late 1940s.

Blakey made a name for himself in the 1940s in the big bands of Fletcher Henderson and Billy Eckstine. He then worked with bebop musicians Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie. In the mid-1950s, Horace Silver and Blakey formed the Jazz Messengers, a group that the drummer was associated with for the next 35 years. The group was formed as a collective of contemporaries, but over the years the band became known as an incubator for young talent, including Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Donald Byrd, Jackie McLean, Johnny Griffin, Curtis Fuller, Chuck Mangione, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Cedar Walton, Woody Shaw, Terence Blanchard, and Wynton Marsalis. The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz calls the Jazz Messengers “the archetypal hard bop group of the late 50s”.

Blakey was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame (in 1981), the Grammy Hall of Fame (in 1998 and 2001), and was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1991

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Free for All is a jazz album by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers released on Blue Note. Recorded in February 1964, it was released the following year. It was originally titled “Free Fall”.

The Allmusic review by Al Campbell awards the album 4 stars and states ” This edition of the Jazz Messengers had been together since 1961 with a lineup that would be hard to beat: Freddie Hubbard on trumpet… Wayne Shorter on tenor sax, Curtis Fuller on trombone, Cedar Walton on piano, and Reggie Workman on bass. Shorter’s title track is one of the finest moments in the Jazz Messengers’ history.”

Freddie Hubbard’s composition “The Core” is dedicated to the CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and expresses “Hubbard’s admiration of that organization’s persistence and resourcefulness in its work for total, meaningful equality.” “They’re getting”, he explains, “at the core, at the center of the kinds of change that have to take place before this society is really open to everyone. And more than any other group, CORE is getting to youth, and that’s where the center of change is.” The piece was called that way also because Hubbard thought that the musicians “got at some of the core of jazz – the basic feelings and rhythms that are at the foundation of music.”

Wayne Shorter

“Pensativa” was composed by Fischer, but was arranged by Hubbard for the occasion: “I was playing a gig in Long Island”, he recalls, “and the pianist started playing it. The mood got me, this feeling of a pensive woman. And the melody was so beautiful that, after I’d gotten home, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.”

The album was intended to have featured three more tunes, Shorter’s “Eva” and two vocals by Wellington Blakey, Blakey’s cousin. These were attempted, but no valid takes were recorded. Additionally, the musicians tried a second take of “Free for All”, included for the first time ever on the limited 2014 Japanese SHM-CD; an attempt that producer Lion had to stop because Blakey’s drums broke, according to his log. Indeed, said alternate take is three minutes shorter.(wikipedia)

Freddie Hubbard

Free for All is a high point in drummer Art Blakey’s enormous catalog. This edition of the Jazz Messengers had been together since 1961 with a lineup that would be hard to beat: Freddie Hubbard on trumpet (his last session with the Messengers), Wayne Shorter on tenor sax, Curtis Fuller on trombone, Cedar Walton on piano, and Reggie Workman on bass. Shorter’s title track is one of the finest moments in the Jazz Messengers’ history. In the eight minutes of “Free for All,” an emotional apex is reached that skirts the edge of free bop without losing Blakey’s rhythmic glue. Another Shorter composition, “Hammer Head,” is a mid-tempo soul-blues groove, with Shorter, Hubbard, and Fuller taking exceptional solos while Blakey keeps the mid-tempo vigorously swinging. Hubbard’s “The Core,” dedicated to the Congress of Racial Equality, comes close to capturing the heat of the title cut, as it contains similar fiery interplay. The session’s closer, Clare Fischer’s “Pensativa” (brought to the Messengers songbook by Hubbard), would remain a favorite with Blakey for years. A passionate Jazz Messengers workout that proves essential. (by Al Campbell )

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Personnel:
Art Blakey (drums)
Freddie Hubbard (trumpet)
Curtis Fuller (trombone)
Wayne Shorter (saxophone)
Cedar Walton (piano)
Reggie Workman (bass)

Tracklist:
01. Free For All (Shorter) 11.07
02. Hammer Head (Shorter) 7.49
03. The Core (Hubbard) 9.22
04. Pensativa (Fischer) 8.19
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05. Free For All (live) (Shorter) 7.09

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Ry Cooder & Chicken Skin Band – Live At The Old Grey Whistle Test (1977)

FrontCover1Ryland Peter Cooder (born March 15, 1947) is an American musician, songwriter, film score composer and record producer. He is a multi-instrumentalist but is best known for his slide guitar work, his interest in roots music from the United States, and his collaborations with traditional musicians from many countries.

Cooder’s solo work draws upon many genres. He has played with John Lee Hooker, Captain Beefheart, Gordon Lightfoot, Ali Farka Touré, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Randy Newman, Linda Ronstadt, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, David Lindley, The Chieftains, The Doobie Brothers, and Carla Olson & the Textones (on record and film). He formed the band Little Village. He also produced the Buena Vista Social Club album (1997), which became a worldwide hit. Wim Wenders directed the documentary film of the same name (1999), which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000.

Cooder was ranked eighth on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” (David Fricke’s Picks). A 2010 ranking by Gibson placed him at number 32. (wikipedia)

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And here´s a great broadcast recording from 1977. Ry Cooder was on tour to promote his wonderful album “Chicken Skin Music ” from 1976. Ry Cooder is really a gift for all of us.

Thanks to grner1 for sharing the TV broadcast at Dime.

Recorded live at the Old Grey Whistle Test, BBC TV Centre, London, UK; January 31, 1977. Very good audio (ripped from TV broadcast)

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Personnel:
Ry Cooder (guitar, vocals)
Terry Evans (vocals)
Isaac Garcia (drums)
Flaco Jimenez (accordion)
Bobby King (vocals)
Eldridge King (vocals)
Jesse Ponce (bajo sexto (12-string bass guitar)
Big Red (bass)
Pat Rizzo (saxophone)

RyCooder01Tracklist:
01.Introduction 1.05
02. The Tattler (Cooder/Titelman/Phillips) 4.16
03. Dark End Of The Street (Penn/Morman) 7.10
04. Jesus On A Main Line (Traditional) 4.51
05. Do Re Mi (Guthrie) 6.50
06. Goodnight Irene (Ledbetter/Lomax) 5.35
07. He’ll Have To Go (J.Allison/A.Allison) 4.46
08. Smack Dab In The Middle (Calhoun) 7.14

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Santana – Shaman (2002)

FrontCover1Santana is an American rock band formed in San Francisco in 1966 by Mexican-American guitarist and songwriter Carlos Santana. The band has undergone multiple recording and performing line-ups in its history, with Carlos Santana the only consistent member. Santana had early success with their appearance at Woodstock in 1969 and their first three albums, Santana (1969), Abraxas (1970), and Santana III (1971). Other important core members during this period include Gregg Rolie, Michael Carabello, Michael Shrieve, David Brown, and José “Chepito” Areas, forming the “classic” line-up.

Following its initial success Santana experimented with elements of jazz fusion on Caravanserai (1972), Welcome (1973), and Borboletta (1974). Santana reached a new peak of commercial and critical success with Supernatural (1999) and its singles “Smooth”, featuring singer Rob Thomas, and “Maria Maria”. The album reached No. 1 in eleven countries and sold 12 million copies in the US. In 2014, the “classic” line-up reunited for Santana IV (2016) and the group continue to perform and record.

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Santana is one of the best-selling groups of all time with 43.5 million certified albums sold the US, and an estimated 100 million sold worldwide. Its discography include 25 studio albums, 14 of which reached the US top 10. In 1998, the line-up of Santana, Rolie, Carabello, Shrieve, Brown, and Areas was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2000, the band won six Grammy Awards in one night, a record tied with Michael Jackson, and three Latin Grammy Awards. (wikipedia)

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Shaman is the nineteenth studio album by Santana. Shaman was released on October 22, 2002 and debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 with first week sales of 298,973. It was certified Double Platinum by the RIAA and Gold in Greece.

The first single of the album was “The Game of Love”, featuring Michelle Branch. “Why Don’t You & I”, featuring Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, was also re-recorded as a single in 2003, which featured Alex Band of The Calling.

Like the previous album, Supernatural, Shaman features various famous rock, hip hop, and pop artists, as well as Spanish opera star, Plácido Domingo.

The album is Santana’s longest studio release to date.

Single1The first single released, “The Game of Love” which features Michelle Branch, peaked at number 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, number 16 in the UK, and number 21 in Australia. A re-recorded version of “Why Don’t You & I” with vocals by Alex Band peaked at number 8 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. “Feels Like Fire” (featuring Dido) and “Nothing at All” (featuring Musiq) failed to chart in most countries. (wikipedia)

Booklet05+06Nobody could have predicted the success of the star-studded Supernatural in 1999, but it revitalized the career of Santana, plus Clive Davis, who cooked up the whole idea of the comeback in the first place. Given its blockbuster status, a sequel that followed the same blueprint was inevitable, which is exactly what 2002’s Shaman is. If anything, there’s even less Carlos Santana here, proving that he and Davis are among those that believe that Supernatural was a success because of Rob Thomas and “Smooth,” not the typically tasteful, excellent guitar playing. And, no surprise, Thomas has a strong presence here even if he doesn’t sing. He writes two songs, flexing his muscles as a neo-soul songwriter (not badly, either, on cuts sung by Musiq and Seal), and providing the template for all the guests here: they want to launch a new stage of their career, finding a wider audience. Outside of Seal (who has a comeback of his own to launch) and Placido Domingo (who does these things because he can), everybody here has hearts to win and something to prove, and they do a mixed job of it. P.O.D. falls on its face with the embarrassing “America,” but Chad Kroeger far outshines anything he’s done with a surprisingly subtle and soulful “Why Don’t You & I,” easily better than anything by Nickelback.

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But this points out the problem on the record — each song is tailored to the strengths of the lead singer, not the strengths of Santana, who’s left with piddly, forgettable instrumental interludes and playing endless lines beneath the vocal melodies. Who can blame him? It’s the only chance he really gets to play on this album. On the whole, it holds together no better or no worse than Supernatural — it’s the same record, essentially. True, there wasn’t anything as awful as “America” or the foolish aural press release “Since Supernatural,” but there was nothing as joyous and wonderful as the Michelle Branch-sung “The Game of Love.” Written by the team behind the New Radicals’ modern pop classic “You Get What You Give,” it’s every bit as soaring melodic and irresistible; it may not be Santana — it sounds even less like Santana than “Smooth” — but it’s perfect pop, the best pop single of 2002, for reasons that have nothing to do with Santana. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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And I add as a bonus the complete songbook of the album.

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Personnel:
Dennis Chambers (drums)
John Ginty (keyboards)
Bill Ortiz (trumpet)
Tony Lindsay (vocals)
Karl Perazzo (percussion)
Raul Rékow (percussion)
Benny Rietveld (bass)
Carlos Santana (guitar, keyboards, percussion, vocals)
Michael Shrieve (drums)
Pauline Taylor (background vocals)
Chester D. Thompson (keyboards)
Andy Vargas (vocals)
Arturo Velasco – trombone)
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Dido Armstrong (vocals on 10.)
Michelle Branch (vocals, guitar on 03.)
Citizen Cope (vocals on 09.)
Plácido Domingo vocals on 17.)
Macy Gray (vocals on 14.)
Chad Kroeger (vocals on 15.)
Alejandro Lerner (vocals on 13.)
Melky Jean & Governor (vocals on 08.)
Musiq (vocals on 02.)
Ozomatli (vocals on 14.)
P.O.D. (vocals on 09.)
Seal (vocals on 04.)
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Tabou Combo on 06.
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many more musicians (see the file in this presentation)

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Tracklist:
01. Adouma (Kidjo/Hebrail) 4-15
02. Nothing At All (Thomas/Rooney) 4.29
03. The Game Of Love (Alexander/Nowels) 4.16
04. You Are My Kind (Thomas) 4.20
05. Foo Foo (André/Eugène/Joseph/Nau/Jean) 6.29
06. Since Supernatural (Jean/Duplessis & Governor) 4.32
07. America (Sandoval/Curiel/Daniels/Bernardo) 4.34
08. Sideways (Greenwood) 4.42
09. Feels Like Fire (D.Armstrong/R.Armstrong/Pnut) 4.40
10. Aye Aye Aye (Shrieve/Santana/Perazzo/Rekow) 4.46
11. Hoy Es Adiós (Derendorf/Docornet/Lerner) 4.37
12. One Of These Days (Eckl/Porter/Santana) 5.54
13. Amoré (Sexo) (Gray/Mendez/Austin/Vazquez) 3.52
14. Victory Is Won (Santana) 5.21
15. Why Don’t You & I (Kroeger) 4.34
16. Let Me Love You Tonight (Santana) 5.35
17. Novus (Santana/Szabó/Afanasieff/DiGiovine/Rome) 4.11

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The Milagro Foundation (founded by Carlos Santana):
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The J. Geils Band – Hotline (1975)

FrontCover1The J. Geils Band was an American rock band formed in 1967, in Worcester, Massachusetts, under the leadership of guitarist John “J.” Geils. The original band members included vocalist Peter Wolf, harmonica and saxophone player Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz, drummer Stephen Bladd, vocalist/keyboardist Seth Justman, and bassist Danny Klein. Wolf and Justman served as principal songwriters. The band played R&B-influenced blues rock during the 1970s and soon achieved commercial success before moving towards a more mainstream radio-friendly sound in the early 1980s, which brought the band to its commercial peak. After Wolf left the band in 1983 to pursue a solo career, the band released one more album in 1984 with Justman on lead vocals, before breaking up in 1985. Beginning in 1999, the band had several reunions prior to the death of its namesake, J. Geils, on April 11, 2017.

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The band first released several Top 40 singles in the early 1970s, including a cover of the song “Lookin’ for a Love” by The Valentinos (which reached No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972), as well as the single “Give It to Me” (No. 30 in 1973). Their biggest hits included “Must of Got Lost” (No. 12 in 1975), “Come Back” (No. 32 in 1980), “Love Stinks” (which reached No. 38 in 1980 and was featured in several films), “Centerfold” (No. 1 in 1982), and “Freeze-Frame” (No. 4 in 1982). (wikipedia)

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Hotline is the sixth studio album by American rock band The J. Geils Band. The album was released on September 9, 1975, by Atlantic Records.

The J. Geils Band’s sixth studio album, 1975’s Hotline, didn’t spawn any hits, didn’t reach very high on the charts, and was very true to the band’s formula (going back to a mix of originals and covers after two all-original albums). It is also one of their most cohesive, satisfying, and fun albums. Kicking off with one of their live favorites, a barn-burning cover of Harvey Scales & the Seven Sounds’ obscure soul nugget “Love-Itis,” the disc runs through hard-edged blues, funky soul, rip-roaring rock & roll, and a ballad or two. The bandmembers show no signs of letting down and sound as dedicated to their house-party ethic as ever. Along with “Love-Itis,” at least half of the record would have sounded excellent blasting from AOR stations.

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Why none of them, like the driving “Easy Way Out,” the peppy “Jealous Love,” and the cold as ice “Mean Love,” never got much airplay is a mystery. Elsewhere, the band shows nice restraint on the heartbroken ballad “Think It Over,” exhibits blazing blues chops on John Brim’s “Be Careful (What You Do)” and Eddie Burns’ “Orange Driver,” and get very funky on “Fancy Footwork.” The one song that sounds like their hearts aren’t all the way in it, the cover of the Impressions’ “Believe In Me,” is still a rollicking good time. This is one of the overlooked gems in the band’s catalog, not as strong as their best work but certainly worth many listens. (by Tim Sendra )

The intro of “Believe in Me” also became the intro tune to the German Rockpalast rock events.

And this album has a great gimmick cover !

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Personnel:
Stephen Bladd (drums)
Magic Dick (harmonica)
J. Geils (guitar)
Seth Justman (keyboards)
Danny Klein (bass)
Peter Wolf (vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Love-Itis (Scales/Vance) 4.39
02. Easy Way Out (Justman/Wolf) 4.04
03. Think It Over (Justman/Wolf) 4.41
04. Be Careful (What You Do) (Brim) 4.03
05. Jealous Love (Justman/Wolf) 4.09
06. Mean Love (Justman/Wolf) 5.05
07. Orange Driver Eddie (Burns) 4.30
08. Believe In Me (Mayfield) 4.43
09. Fancy Footwork (Justman/Wolf) 5.26

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Jay Geils

Journey – Same (1975)

FrontCover1Journey is an American rock band that formed in San Francisco in 1973. At that time it was composed of former members of Santana, namely guitarist Neal Schon, who has remained with the band since its inception, and keyboardist Gregg Rolie, who served as primary lead vocalist for the band’s first three albums, and Frumious Bandersnatch, most notably bassist Ross Valory, who was with the band until 1985 and since 1995. In 1978, Steve Perry joined to serve as lead vocalist, and in 1980 Jonathan Cain replaced Rolie as keyboardist, and has remained a constant member since. The band’s strongest commercial success occurred between 1978 and 1987 at which time Perry departed.

During Perry’s tenure, the band released a series of hit songs, including “Don’t Stop Believin'”, which in 2009 became the top-selling track in iTunes history among songs not released in the 21st century. Its parent studio album, Escape (1981), the band’s seventh and most successful, reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 1981 and yielded two their other most popular singles, “Open Arms” and “Who’s Crying Now”. The 1983 follow-up album, Frontiers, was almost as successful in the United States, reaching No. 2 and spawning several successful singles; it broadened the band’s appeal in the United Kingdom, where it reached No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart. Journey enjoyed a successful reunion in the mid-1990s and have since regrouped twice; first with Steve Augeri from 1998-2006, then with Arnel Pineda from 2007 to the present.

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Sales have resulted in twenty-five gold and platinum albums, in addition to the fifteen-time platinum RIAA Diamond Certified, 1988’s Greatest Hits album. They have had nineteen Top 40 singles in the U.S. (the second most without a Billboard Hot 100 number one single behind Electric Light Orchestra with 20), six of which reached the Top 10 of the US chart and two of which reached No. 1 on other Billboard charts, and a No. 6 hit on the UK Singles Chart in “Don’t Stop Believin'”. In 2005, “Don’t Stop Believin'” reached No. 3 on iTunes downloads. Originally a progressive rock band, Journey was described by AllMusic as having cemented a reputation as “one of America’s most beloved (and sometimes hated) commercial rock/pop bands” by 1978, when they redefined their sound by embracing pop arrangements on their fourth album, Infinity.

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According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Journey has sold 48 million albums in the U.S., making them the 25th best-selling band. Their worldwide sales have reached over 80 million records globally, making them one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time. A 2005 USA Today opinion poll named Journey the fifth-best U.S. rock band in history. Their songs have become arena rock staples and are still played on rock radio stations across the world. Journey ranks No. 96 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Journey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the class of 2017. Inductees included Perry, Schon, Rolie, Valory, Cain, and drummers Aynsley Dunbar and Steve Smith.

Journey is the self-titled debut album by the band of the same name. It was released in 1975 on Columbia Records. Unlike their later recordings, this is a jazzy progressive rock album which focuses mainly on the band’s instrumental talents. It is the only album to include rhythm guitarist George Tickner among their personnel.

Journey recorded a demo album prior to the release of Journey, with the same songs in different order and with Prairie Prince as the drummer. There were additional tracks, including instrumental pieces, that did not make it to the final product, including the original title track of the demo album, “Charge of the Light Brigade”. (wikipedia)

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First off, this is not “Escape,” “Raised On Radio,” or even “Infinity,” though four-fifths of that album’s lineup (Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon, Ross Valory and Aynsley Dunbar, along with this-album-only rhythm guitarist George Tickner) appear here. If you are looking for “Faithfully,” “Don’t Stop Believin'” or any of the other Steve Perry-era mega-hits, you will not find them here.

However, what you will find is excellent musicianship, rather in the mould of Kansas (without the violin, of course), though that would show itself more on the next album, “Look Into The Future.” Rolie and Schon came out of Santana, an early “jam” band, though they did not bring any of Carlos’ Latin-flavourings with them.

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Much of it is instrumental, and when vocals show up, they are by Rolie (I could not detect Neal Schon’s slightly-raspier voice). Surprisingly, there are very few synthesisers; most keyboards are Jon Lord-influenced beefy Hammond B3 and electric piano.

The cover does a good job of showing what is found within: spacey prog, though with more of an American flavour. Opener “Of A Lifetime” used to get played on adventurous rock stations when I was a kid in the ’70s. Surprisingly, there are some hints of pop, with “To Play Some Music” and “In The Morning Day” (piano by bassist Ross Valory).

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However, if you want instrumental pyrotechnics, you will find them here, especially from criminally-underated lead guitarist Schon and former Jeff Beck drum legend (and lone Briton) Aynsley Dunbar, whose style is not far removed from fellow Englishman Cozy Powell. Indeed, I would go so far to say that “Journey” shows Aynsley at his best, before a short stint in the overcommercialised version of Jefferson Starship and session work with the ’80s version of Whitesnake. Listen especially to “Kohoutek” for this.

I imagine many recreational substances have been consumed over the years to the backdrop of this album. However, they are not necessary to enjoy it. It is what I call a “late night” album for me. Just pop it in and drift away with Messrs. Rolie, Schon, Dunbar, Valory and Tickner as they begin their “Journey.” (by Lyle Randolph)

Indeed, a real strong debut album !

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Personnel:
Aynsley Dunbar (drums)
Gregg Rolie (keyboards, vocals)
Neal Schon (lead guitar, background vocals)
George Tickner (guitar, background vocals)
Ross Valory (bass, background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Of A Lifetime (Rolie/Tickner/Schon) 6.54
02. In The Morning Day (Rolie/R.Valory) 4.27
03. Kohoutek (Schon/Rolie) 6.46
04. To Play Some Music (Rolie/Schon) 3.19
05. Topaz (Tickner) 6.12
06. In My Lonely Feeling/Conversations (Rolie/R.Valory) 5.01
07. Mystery Mountain (Rolie/Tickner/D.Valory) 4:23

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Johnny Winter – Same (1969)

FrontCover1John Dawson “Johnny” Winter III (February 23, 1944 – July 16, 2014) was an American singer and guitarist. Winter was known for his high-energy blues rock albums and live performances in the late 1960s and 1970s. He also produced three Grammy Award-winning albums for blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters. After his time with Waters, Winter recorded several Grammy-nominated blues albums. In 1988, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and in 2003, he was ranked 63rd in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.

Johnny Winter was born in Beaumont, Texas, on February 23, 1944. He and younger brother Edgar (born 1946) were nurtured at an early age by their parents in musical pursuits. Their father, Leland, Mississippi native John Dawson Winter Jr. (1909–2001), was also a musician who played saxophone and guitar and sang at churches, weddings, Kiwanis and Rotary Club gatherings. Johnny and his brother, both of whom were born with albinism, began performing at an early age. When he was ten years old, the brothers appeared on a local children’s show with Johnny playing ukulele.

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His recording career began at the age of 15, when his band Johnny and the Jammers released “School Day Blues” on a Houston record label. During this same period, he was able to see performances by classic blues artists such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Bobby Bland. In the early days, Winter would sometimes sit in with Roy Head and the Traits when they performed in the Beaumont area, and in 1967, Winter recorded a single with the Traits: “Tramp” backed with “Parchman Farm” (Universal Records 30496). In 1968, he released his first album The Progressive Blues Experiment, on Austin’s Sonobeat Records.

Winter caught his biggest break in December 1968, when Mike Bloomfield, whom he met and jammed with in Chicago, invited him to sing and play a song during a Bloomfield and Al Kooper concert at the Fillmore East in New York City. As it happened, representatives of Columbia Records (which had released the Top Ten Bloomfield/Kooper/Stills Super Session album) were at the concert. Winter played and sang B.B. King’s “It’s My Own Fault” to loud applause, and within a few days, was signed to what was reportedly the largest advance in the history of the recording industry at that time—$600,000.

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Winter’s first Columbia album, Johnny Winter, was recorded and released in 1969. It featured the same backing musicians with whom he had recorded The Progressive Blues Experiment, bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Uncle John Turner, plus Edgar Winter on keyboards and saxophone, and (for his “Mean Mistreater”) Willie Dixon on upright bass and Big Walter Horton on harmonica. The album featured a few selections that became Winter signature songs, including his composition “Dallas” (an acoustic blues, on which Winter played a steel-bodied, resonator guitar), John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson’s “Good Morning Little School Girl”, and B.B. King’s “Be Careful with a Fool”.

The album’s success coincided with Imperial Records picking up The Progressive Blues Experiment for wider release. The same year, the Winter trio toured and performed at several rock festivals, including Woodstock. With brother Edgar added as a full member of the group, Winter also recorded his second album, Second Winter, in Nashville in 1969. The two-disc album only had three recorded sides (the fourth was blank). It introduced more staples of Winter’s concerts, including Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited”. Johnny entered into a short-lived affair with Janis Joplin, which culminated at a concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where Johnny joined her on stage to sing and perform.

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Contrary to urban legend, Johnny Winter did not perform with Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison on the infamous 1968 Hendrix bootleg album Woke up this Morning and Found Myself Dead from New York City’s the Scene club. According to Winter, “I never even met Jim Morrison! There’s a whole album of Jimi and Jim and I’m supposedly on the album but I don’t think I am ’cause I never met Jim Morrison in my life! I’m sure I never, never played with Jim Morrison at all! I don’t know how that [rumor] got started.”

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Beginning in 1969, the first of numerous Johnny Winter albums was released which were cobbled together from approximately fifteen singles (about 30 “sides”) he recorded before signing with Columbia in 1969.[3] Many were produced by Roy Ames, owner of Home Cooking Records/Clarity Music Publishing, who had briefly managed Winter. According to an article from the Houston Press, Winter left town for the express purpose of getting away from him. Ames died on August 14, 2003, of natural causes at age 66. As Ames left no obvious heirs, the ownership rights of the Ames master recordings remains unclear. As Winter stated in an interview when the subject of Roy Ames came up, “This guy has screwed so many people it makes me mad to even talk about him.”

In 1970, when his brother Edgar released a solo album Entrance and formed Edgar Winter’s White Trash, an R&B/jazz-rock group, the original trio disbanded. Johnny Winter then formed a new band with the remnants of the McCoys—guitarist Rick Derringer, bassist Randy Jo Hobbs, and drummer Randy Z (who was Derringer’s brother, their family name being Zehringer). Originally to be called “Johnny Winter and the McCoys”, the name was shortened to “Johnny Winter And”, which was also the name of their first album. The album included Derringer’s “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” and signaled a more rock-oriented direction for Winter.[8] When Johnny Winter And began to tour, Randy Z was replaced with drummer Bobby Caldwell. Their mixture of the new rock songs with Winter’s blues songs was captured on the live album Live Johnny Winter And. It included a new performance of “It’s My Own Fault”, the song which brought Winter to the attention of Columbia Records.

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Winter’s momentum was throttled when he sank into heroin addiction during the Johnny Winter And days. After he sought treatment for and recovered from the addiction, Winter was put in front of the music press by manager Steve Paul to discuss the addiction candidly. By 1973, he returned to the music scene with the release of Still Alive and Well, a basic blend of blues and hard rock, whose title track was written by Rick Derringer. His comeback concert at Long Island, New York’s Nassau Coliseum featured the “And” line-up minus Rick Derringer and Bobby Caldwell. Also performing on stage was Johnny’s wife Susie. Saints & Sinners and John Dawson Winter III, two albums released in 1974, continue in the same direction.[9] In 1975, Johnny returned to Bogalusa, Louisiana, to produce an album for Thunderhead, a Southern rock band which included Pat Rush and Bobby “T” Torello, who would later play with Winter. A second live Winter album, Captured Live!, was released in 1976 and features an extended performance of “Highway 61 Revisited”.

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In live performances, Winter often told the story about how, as a child, he dreamed of playing with the blues guitarist Muddy Waters. He got his chance in 1974, when renowned blues artists and their younger brethren came together to honor the musician (Muddy Waters) responsible for bringing blues to Chicago, and the resulting concert presented many blues classics and was the start of an admired TV series: Soundstage (this particular session was called “Blues Summit in Chicago”). And in 1977, after Waters’ long-time label Chess Records went out of business, Winter brought Waters into the studio to record Hard Again for Blue Sky Records, a label set up by Winter’s manager and distributed by Columbia. In addition to producing the album, Winter played guitar with Waters veteran James Cotton on harmonica. Winter produced two more studio albums for Waters, I’m Ready (with Big Walter Horton on harmonica) and King Bee and a best-selling live album Muddy “Mississippi” Waters – Live. The partnership produced three Grammy Awards for Waters and an additional Grammy for Winter’s own Nothin’ But the Blues, with backing by members of Waters’ band. Waters told Deep Blues author Robert Palmer that Winter had done remarkable work in reproducing the sound and atmosphere of Waters’s vintage Chess Records recordings of the 1950s. AllMusic writer Mark Deming noted: “Between Hard Again and The Last Waltz [1976 concert film by The Band], Waters enjoyed a major career boost, and he found himself touring again for large and enthusiastic crowds”.

In 1996, Johnny and Edgar filed suit against DC Comics and the creators of the Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such limited series, claiming, among other things, defamation: two characters named Johnny and Edgar Autumn in the series strongly resemble the Winters. The brothers claimed the comics falsely portrayed them as “vile, depraved, stupid, cowardly, subhuman individuals who engage in wanton acts of violence, murder and bestiality for pleasure and who should be killed.” The California Supreme Court sided with DC Comics, holding that the comic books were deserving of First Amendment protection.

Johnny Winter08After his time with Blue Sky Records, Winter began recording for several labels, including Alligator, Point Blank, and Virgin, where he focused on blues-oriented material. In 1992, he married Susan Warford. In 2004, he received a Grammy Award nomination for his I’m a Bluesman album. Beginning in 2007, a series of live Winter albums titled the Live Bootleg Series and a live DVD all entered the Top 10 Billboard Blues chart. In 2009, The Woodstock Experience album was released, which includes eight songs that Winter performed at the 1969 festival. In 2011, Johnny Winter released Roots on Megaforce Records. It includes Winter’s interpretation of eleven early blues and rock ‘n’ roll classics and features several guest artists (Vince Gill, Sonny Landreth, Susan Tedeschi, Edgar Winter, Warren Haynes, and Derek Trucks). His last studio album, Step Back (which features appearances by Joe Bonamassa, Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons, Leslie West, Brian Setzer, Dr. John, Paul Nelson, Ben Harper and Joe Perry), was released on September 2, 2014. Nelson and Winter won a Grammy Award in the Best Blues Album category for Step Back in 2015. Nelson said Winter knew it was an award winner and Winter told him “If we don’t win a Grammy for this, they’re nuts.”

Winter continued to perform live, including at festivals throughout North America and Europe. He headlined such prestigious events as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Chicago Blues Festival, the 2009 Sweden Rock Festival, the Warren Haynes Christmas Jam, and Rockpalast. He also performed with the Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theater in New York City on the 40th anniversary of their debut. In 2007 and 2010, Winter performed at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festivals. Two guitar instructional DVDs were produced by Cherry Lane Music and the Hal Leonard Corporation. The Gibson Guitar Company released the signature Johnny Winter Firebird guitar in a ceremony in Nashville with Slash presenting.

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Winter was professionally active until the time of his death near Zürich, Switzerland, on July 16, 2014. He was found dead in his hotel room two days after his last performance, at the Cahors Blues Festival in France. The cause of Winter’s death was not officially released. According to his guitarist friend and record producer Paul Nelson, Winter died of emphysema combined with pneumonia.

Writing in Rolling Stone magazine, after Winter’s death, David Marchese said, “Winter was one of the first blues rock guitar virtuosos, releasing a string of popular and fiery albums in the late Sixties and early Seventies, becoming an arena-level concert draw in the process” … [he] “made an iconic life for himself by playing the blues”.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Johnny Winter among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.

Winter produced three Grammy Award-winning albums by Muddy Waters – Hard Again (1977), I’m Ready (1978), and Muddy “Mississippi” Waters – Live (1979). Several of Winter’s own albums were nominated for Grammy Awards – Guitar Slinger (1984) and Serious Business (1985) for Best Traditional Blues Album, and Let Me In (1991) and I’m a Bluesman (2004) for Best Contemporary Blues Album. In 2015 Winter posthumously won the Grammy Award for Best Blues Album for Step Back. The album also won the 2015 Blues Music Award for Best Rock Blues Album. At the 18th Maple Blues Awards in 2015, Winter was also posthumously awarded the B.B. King International Artist of The Year Award.

In 1980, Winter was on the cover of the first issue of Guitar World. In 1988, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, the first non-African-American performer to be inducted into the Hall.

Multiple guitarists have cited Winter as an influence, including Joe Perry, Frank Marino, Michael Schenker, Adrian Smith, and Alex Skolnick. (wikipedia)

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And here´s his eponymous debut album for Columbia Records:

What do you look for when you listen to a blues record? Is it great guitar playing with interesting licks? Is it comfort and solace when somebody has mistreated you? Is it curiosity to discover the roots of you favorite genre of music? Surely, you will definitely find a lot of excellent guitar licks, you’ll find comfort but most of all blues is all about emotions. It’s about listening to grown men or women telling stories about how they were mistreated, abused, taken advantage or harmed by people of the opposite sex most of the times. What really separates the blues though from other genres and artists that simply whine or bitch about how everything is awful and without hope, is that the blues aren’t depressing per se. The blues convey a sense of pride to the listener. They communicate that pain and anguish are indeed part of our lives and as such cannot be avoided. However, those dreadful feelings can be put in context through music in order to relieve their symptoms and this is what the blues is all about. It’s about music taking away the pain and as such the blues are all about pride and empowerment.

Whenever a discussion about the blues is started, there are people who tend to support that only the original blues players had what was needed and all those who came after them were simply faux. The reason most times seems to be that blues players from the 60s onwards added few rock elements to their sound and as a result strayed away from the original sound. Another argument is that the OG’s music was much more emotional. In Johnny Winter’s case I can assure you that there aren’t many more emotional players around and he has all those elements that the older statesmen of blues possessed. Unlike most guitar players around, Johnny Winters uses a thumb pick; a guitar playing technique that was developed by early country and blues musicians. To the untrained ear, this doesn’t make much difference but it certainly helps Winter with his soloing. Johnny Winter, as can be demonstrated by his self titled release, is one of the most technical bluesmen combining tasty licks with fiery solos. And talking about the Johnny Winter album, it has to be noted that apart from the fiddler himself, some exceptional musicians such as his brother Edgar who handles the keyboards and even the legendary Willie Dixon on acoustic bass have provided some brilliant arrangements. Johnny Winter’s sophomore release came one year after his successful debut The Progressive Blues Experiment and a couple of months prior to his appearance on the Woodstock Festival.

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Musically Johnny Winter is similar to his debut, meaning that it contains generous doses of well played electric and acoustic blues from the main scenes of the genre. However, what separated this album and in general all of Winter’s releases back then is that he did all that with a hard rock wrapping. Nevertheless, purists don’t need to be discouraged at all because the soul of the blues is very much present on Winter’s self titled release. Take for example one of the standouts of this album, “Be Careful With a Fool”. Originally performed by BB King, Johnny Winter adds his personal touch by adding an extra grittiness to the song with his hard and precise playing. Naturally as a BB King tune, “Be Careful with a Fool” is a Chicago/Memphis tune as is “Mean Mistreater” with its typical and intentional 50s blues sound. Going back to what was mentioned in the beginning of this review, the blues aren’t always downbeat and depressing and a perfect example of that is “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”. A well known song originally by Sonny Boy Williamson, it was firstly recorded pre-war and has been covered numerous times with Junior Wells’ rendition being probably the most renowned (appropriately may I add). One of my all time favorites, it’s one of the most uptempo tracks of the album and a perfect example of how anguish can be expressed in a rather buoyant manner.

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Going back to the acoustic side of the album, “When You Got a Good Friend” is one of Robert Johnson’s most well known and loved songs. Covered by Eric Clapton too, Johnny Winter does an excellent job of keeping the feeling of the original and adds his personal touch with some excellent slide guitar playing. His decision to not stray away much from the original is a wise one. Another Delta song is “Dallas”, an original composition by Johnny Winter that could have easily been mistaken for an original Mississippi blues tune. Being a Texas native himself, Johnny Winter has included three blues tracks from his birthplace. ” I’m Yours and I’m Hers “, “Leland Mississippi Blues” which is an original composition by Winter, with its guitar playing that follows the vocal line and “Back Door Friend” a raw and dirty acoustic turned electric Lightnin’ Hopkins tune are excellent examples of Winter’s ability to cover all styles of the blues. In addition, one of the standout tracks if there is such in an album like this one is “I’ll Drown in My Tears”. It features one of Winter’s most emotional vocal deliveries ever. Brass instruments and piano dominate this song while you can feel BB King or even Ray Charles’ influence in Winter’s music. Lastly, the production which was done by Winter himself with the help of the great Eddie Kramer suits perfectly the overall mood of the album.

Objectively and as a fan of the blues, the only drawback that I can find on this album is its short duration. At only 34 minutes, it always leaves you asking for more but that alone cannot take away any of the magic of this album. For blues fans this is a must whereas for fans of hard rock or blues rock this is an album that should at least be listened once in your lifetime. It will make you realize why Johnny Winter is truly a legend and an often underrated guitar player. (by manosg )

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Personnel:
Tommy Shannon (bass)
Uncle John Turner (drums, percussion)
Johnny Winter (guitar, slide guitar, harmonica, vocals)
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A. Wynn Butler (saxophone on 06.)
Willie Dixon (bass on 04.)
Karl Garin (trumpet on 06.)
Walter “Shakey” Horton (harmonica on 04.)
Norman Ray (saxophone on 08.)
Stephen Ralph Sefsik (saxophone on 08.)
Edgar Winter (keyboards on 08., saxophone on 06.)
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background vocals on 08.:
Peggy Bowers – Carrie Hossel  – Elsie Senter

AdTracklist:
01. I’m Yours And I’m Hers (Winter) 4.32
02. Be Careful With A Fool (King/Josea) 5.17
03. Dallas (Winter) 2.49
04. Mean Mistreater (Gordon) 3.55
05. Leland Mississippi Blues (Winter) 3.31
06. Good Morning Little School Girl (Level/Love) 2.46
07. When You Got A Good Friend (unknown) 3.42
08. I’ll Drown In My Tears (Glover) 4.47
09. Back Door Friend (Lewis/Hopkins) 2.58
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10. Country Girl (King) 3.08
11. Dallas (with band) (Winter) 3.37
12. Two Steps From The Blues (Brown/Malone) 2.36

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