Always one of the Lone Star State’s great individualists, Johnny Winter has chosen the 40th Anniversary of his rock-accentuated Live album, a commercial career high, to revisit his musical beginnings.
The lean and mean opening duel with Sonny Landreth on T Bone Walker’s signature T Bone Shuffle sets the tone for some serious stripped-back, no frills, firepower. While the laconic looping harmonica of Blues Traveler virtuoso John Popper gives Last Night a gilded glow; while Winter adds breathtaking runs, wonderfully wacky and technically audacious fills throughout.
The unaffected, straight-to-the-heart approach reaps further dividends with Warren Hayes on a lyrical Done Something Wrong. Sibling Edgar’s sax provides the vibrant backdrop for a progressively unhinged rampage on Bill Doggett’s quintessential R&B instrumental Honky Tonk; and Winter’s merciless drive is gloriously entwined with Derek Trucks’ spiralling slide on Elmore James’ Dust My Broom.
Ultimately, Roots shows that at 67 Winter’s unbreakable connection to his past insures his potency remains undimmed.