Johnny Winter - I’m A Bluesman album review

Putting the spring into Winter’s voice.

Johnny Winter I’m A Bluesman album cover

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Originally released in 2004, this album nudged Johnny Winter back into the mainstream after a decade in which he’d barely been in control of his own destiny. Not surprisingly it’s a cautious affair, recorded in Connecticut away from big-city temptations, with a bunch of solid if unspectacular musicians coaxing Winter out of his shell.

The guitar licks are all in situ, from the driving Duane Allman-esque slide on the opening title track to the subtle Robert Cray-style shadings on I Smell Smoke, but the voice is fragile, except for a couple of tracks where he suddenly engages and transforms the album. The first is the cryptic Monkey Song with a chorus line – ‘You gotta shave that monkey clean’ – that Winter clearly relishes. The second is the solo acoustic slide number That Wouldn’t Satisfy, with an eerie Robert Johnson vibe that has you hanging on for more.

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.