Johnny Winter

Step Back (Megaforce)

Texas Platters

Johnny Winter

Step Back (Megaforce)

Sadly fitting that the high point of Johnny Winter's final studio album finds him alone with a steel guitar and slide, rasping out Son House's haunted "Death Letter." The seminal electric bluesman from Beaumont died in July at the age of 70, Step Back scheduled as more deliverance from addiction and bad business decisions. Now, it's a star-studded epitaph of hits and misses. Early grit comes from a steely rendition with Eric Clapton on Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Don't Want No Woman" as well as a take of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's "Okie Dokie Stomp" with Brian Setzer that swings. Billy Gibbons, Joe Perry, Dr. John, Leslie West, Ben Harper, and a couple of lesser lights also make appearances on mostly familiar tunes including "Long Tall Sally," "Blue Monday," and "Unchain My Heart." Winter remains the star of the show throughout, his lightning-fast guitar play and hungry growl as galvanizing here as in rock & roll heaven.

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