Johnny Winter

Texas platters

Phases and Stages

Johnny Winter

I'm a Bluesman (Virgin/Pointblank)

Partly because he's such a hot dog, it's always been a little laughable to think of Johnny Winter as a bluesman, even when he's doing his best to approximate a purist, as he's done most of the last two decades since the mass audience deserted him. Quite simply, the guy's got both the heart and soul of a rocker, no matter what he's playing. Music seldom sounds more like a force of nature than when the Beaumont native is burning through a guitar solo with giddy abandon or singing a double entendre like a bug-eyed schoolboy who's just realized what the lyric actually means. Coming off hip surgery, Winter doesn't do as much of the former as usual here, this being his first album since 1998 and first set of new material since 1993. His slide work still bristles on tracks like "Lone Wolf," and while his voice isn't quite the barn burner it once was, there's no mistaking the glee when he revisits his Beaumont-Port Arthur inspirations for the swampy "Sugar Coated Love." In other words, Winter may not be at full force, but he's close enough.

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