Johnny Winter, ‘Live 1971 and Studio Session 1969’ (Tarantura TCDJOWI-1-1,2)
Disk One: Good Morning Little Schoolgirl / Rock n’ Roll Hootchie Coo / Be Careful With A Fool > It’s My Own Fault / Jumping Jack Flash / Rock and Roll Medley: Great Balls Of Fire – Long Tall Sally – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (fade out) (54:10)
Monday 1st February, 1971, Konsethuset, Stockholm, Sweden.
Disk Two: Tracks 1-17, ‘I’m Yours And I’m Hers’ studio session. (35:29)
Recorded 1969, Nashville, TN.
The Tarantura label have produced something of a real scarcity here – A Johnny Winters pressed CD set. Through a search on the giginjapan website, 8 years of Winters releases showed only one other pressing, the rest of the releases were CDRs. All were live shows, some towards the end of Johnny’s career, which also makes this set a rarity – True, the first disk is a blistering live set from Europe, 1971, the second disk is in unheard of studio session as Johnny leads his band through a session for the guitarists second and self-titled solo album.
Disk one is 5 songs long. 5 songs. But, as one of the tracks is 17 minutes long, another over 20, as most Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd collectors might attest to, it’s value for money right there. The concert only seems to have had one release on a commercial boot, that would be Gypsy Eye’s CD-R, “Great Johnny On Fire” (The English language is a beautiful thing) – This is then, the first silver disk pressing of this boot.
Taken from an FM radio broadcast, this show is missing a song from the beginning and two songs from the end that weren’t recorded. A stunningly electric and nosebleed set – The band are able to keep up their standard and speed for so long is breath taking – Imagine the Allmans on fast forward or with a bowl of coke, stage right – this show is frenetic and wild. A core band of four – The duling pair of both Johnny Winters and Rick Derringer work like milk and honey together, the pair mutating to become part of each other essentially until it becomes indiscernible to tell the two apart.
Occasionally there’s a little crackle, the kind of air noise that you might associate with an FM signal but older ears will be au-fait with this kind of hum, younger ears may find it distracting.
Disk two features 17 different takes of “I’m Yours And I’m Hers” – 37 minutes of playing and chatting, the session is actually longer than the album the track appears on. If you’re familiar with the track, you’ll know what’s coming, if you think you know the track, it’s where Johnny comedicly screams the lyric, “Be my lemon squeezer”.
In studio quality sound, nice stereo separation, there are a couple of times the tape slips with static but I assume that came from the source, somehow.
The tape starts at the very, very beginning with the producer or engineer asking the title of the track, which Johnny mutters back to him. Take one is a neatly rounded four and a half minutes, after which the producer suggests that Johnny joins him for a playback in the booth.
Take two is a false start as Johnny’s guitar goes off tune, they quickly pick up with another rendition where he peels off some extra guitar additions, obviously happy that he’s found the form of the track, the next take was always going to follow a formula. The following takes don’t always involve a greater difference in detail – One of the main sticking points is that Tommy Shannon (Or ‘red’) seems to be having trouble controlling his tempo and there are a few bum-notes thrown around by Johnny too – but it is fascinating to hear this track come to life, bigger and neater with each and every take, Winters changing small elements and also giving a new vocal every time.
The final two takes are maybe the closest to an all out jam between the three but are perfectly executed. The last track on the disk features the overdubs made for the LP.
Strangely, for an exclusive, the Tarantura label haven’t given this release the deluxe finishing you might otherwise expect, no limited edition numbering, no fancy box. It’s a very neat black and white to colour slipcase with the CDs in paper sleeves.
As rare as it is desirable for Winters fans, this set shouldn’t be missed. If you’re a sucker for rare studio sessions with a “fly on the wall” feel, it’s certainly worth checking out.