If anyone were to make a real tribute album for him, it had to be his brother Edgar, a star in his own right, who played with Johnny Winter in their youth and later.
The list of stars on this album is truly staggering – Joe Bonamassa, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Joe Walsh, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, Robben Ford, Taylor Hawkins, Ringo Starr and so on. All delivering music in the style of Johnny Winter but with their own individual styles.
It’s also a surprisingly listenable album. As a long-time Johnny fan, I was half-expecting some sort of bland copycat of the great man, but every track arrives with genuine passion and no shortage of excellent playing.
Opening to Winter’s own “Mean Town Blues” with Bonamassa, it quite comes out of the speakers with that familiar riff of Winter and Edgar’s gruff vocals, it really sets the whole thing up nicely.
From there you get all the numbers Johnny Winter was most famous for – “Johnny B. Goode” with Joe Walsh on lead vocals, “Highway 61 Revisited” with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and John McFee on guitars and Billy Payne on lead vocals. keys, “Got My Mojo Workin” has a lineup consisting of Bobby Rush: lead vocals and harp, Edgar Winter: piano, Michael McDonald and John McFee: backing vocals, David Grissom: guitar.
One of my favorites from Johnny and Edgar (and especially the two together) is “Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo” and it’s a killer with Steve Lukather: Guitar Solo, Tim Pierce: Rhythm Guitars, Phil X: Additional Rhythm Guitar and Supporting Vocals.
And, of course, his version of ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ which surpassed the Stones’ version, here delivered by Phil X: Solo Guitar and Supporting Vocals, Waddy Wachtel: Rhythm Guitars, Bob Glaub: Bass, Kenny Aronoff: Solo Timpani and all percussion.
The least anticipated track is ‘Lone Star Blues’ with Edgar on vocals and Keb Mo delivering everything else – frankly, it’s probably the best track on the album.
All around, a superb tribute to a master who is unfortunately no longer with us.