Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Johnny Winter's Bootleg Series Vol. 9 - Pure Brilliance

While Volume 9 of Johnny Winter's Bootleg Series is my baptism into the franchise, after a day long thorough listening session, I can be certain that the other eight will not long behind it. Winter and his crew's willingness to delve into places in their archive that would leave others hesitant has unearthed a brilliant performance. Winter's newest installment of the Bootleg Series is proof positive that the power of brilliant musicianship far outshines a (only slightly) lackluster quality recording.

While his studio albums are vintage blues; a must in any music fan's collection, it is on stage where Winter truly shines, stretching out the album tracks and putting on a blues rock master class in a way that only Johnny Winter can.  The tracks compiled in the 45 minute disc are vintage Johnny Winter: a mix of high energy covers, extended jams, and slow blues, with Winter's unmistakable guitar brilliance front and center, cutting through the slight hiss of the recording like a blues-powered lightsaber.  If you're a guitarist, and want to hear exactly what makes Johnny Winter great, the Bootleg Series, and in this case Volume 9 is the place to go.

As relatively short as it may be, Volume 9 of the Bootleg Series is packed full of highlights, and Johnny and his guitar are the unquestioned stars.  In true vintage Johnny Winter fashion, Volume 9 skips the warm-up and kicks right to 3rd gear, with a 10 minute long, solo-filled version of the normally compact Freddie King classic, Hideaway.  Shifting to 4th gear, Winter and Co. tear right into one of my favorite Johnny Winter showcases, the get-up-and-dance tune, turned solo laden showcase, Mean Town Blues, another solo filled jam clocking in at nearly 10-minutes. 

While Bootleg Series Volume 9 is full from beginning to end with highlights, the unquestioned showstopper is the closing track, a somewhat unexpected cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic Manic Depression.  As with the set's opener, Manic Depression shifts the whole thing into overdrive, getting the full Johnny Winter treatment while still paying tribute to the original, complete with searing lead playing that quite simply steals the show.

If Volume 9 of the Johnny Winter Bootleg Series is any indication, as long as there's quality sounding bootleg recordings to be heard, Johnny and his crew will find it. And if that's the case, the Bootleg Series franchise should have no trouble roaring on well into the double digits, keeping aspiring blues guitarists and Johnny Winter fans alike flush with a steady stream of incredible live performances.  Whether you're a long-time Bootleg Series junkie, or a new comer to the brilliance of Johnny Winter live, Volume 9 is the perfect place to start!