Review: True To The Blues – The Johnny Winter Story – Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter True To the BluesLegends are rare.  In fact, there are so few of them (in reality), that we can almost count them down.  When it comes to guitar, there are solid choices out there, no doubt.  But there are some that even stand above the rest, that make even other legends themselves revere them.

One of those is Johnny Winter, or John Dawson Winter III.

Johnny Winter originated from the Texas area, where, at an early age, he, along with his brother Edgar, began performing.  Before Johnny was sixteen, he had recorded with important Blues men.  That set the stage for what Johnny would eventually become, an important bluesman himself.  But not before he signed a hefty (for the time) contract with Columbia Records, and recorded stunning guitar works of covers and original material.  His steaming version of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” is still a go-to version of the classic song.  If you want original, you go to Chuck Berry.  But if you want a true rock ‘n’ roll version of the song, why nothing less than Johnny Winter’s cut of the song will suffice.

Johnny Winter started Columbia Records off with his rollicking self-titled album covering Sonny Boy Williamson (“Good Morning Little School Girl”), James Gordon (the classic “Mean Mistreater”), Robert Johnson (“When You Got A Good Friend”), and Lightnin’ Hopkins (“Back Door Friend”), and few originals of his own (“I’m Yours & I’m Hers”, “Dallas”, “Leland Mississippi Blues”). That was followed up with the classic Second Winter, with its controversial fill of only three sides of vinyl.  It was Second Winter that gifted us with “Johnny B. Goode”.  From that point, it was all love with the accumulation of Winter fans.

Johnny gave us quite the collection of albums, not all with Columbia Records.  Eventually, he hit the road with Alligator Records (after a stint with Columbia Record’s imprint, Blue Sky Records), MCA Records, Virgin, and a few Point Blank (Virgin) issues.

Legacy has gone deep with a 4CD Box collecting together a wealth of Johnny Winter classics called True To the Blues.  And while nothing but the complete album collection of Johnny Winter does the full justice, this box assembles a fine selection of 57 tracks, live and studio, from across the labels mentioned that Johnny recorded for.

The songs are chronologically compiled and reflect the entire life of Johnny Winter thus far.  On February 23, Johnny Winter turned 70 years of age.  And while his ability to stand for long periods of time is no longer there (I see him when I can), he can still set the strings afire.  On February 25, Sony’s brilliant Legacy Recordings celebrated that 70 years with this box. What adds to this set are two unreleased live performance tracks from his 1970 Atlanta Pop festival appearance (“Eyesight To the Blind”, “Prodigal Son”, as well as a introduction to Johnny Winter at the festival).

All of the essential Johnny Winter tracks are included here. I’m always a little jealous that Johnny Winter’s version of “Frankenstein”, the song that lifted Edgar to the top, is never included in any collection.  And while it IS included in the Legacy Edition of Second Winter, I have to understand that it was Edgar who elevated that song to where it is, and that to tread on that would be a brotherly misconduct. Still, True To The Blues, with its remasters of Winter classics from across the board, and a beautifully stuffed booklet with photos, liner notes, etc, make the collection an essential add to a library. Even if you currently own NO Johnny Winter albums (What?!), it could be the ‘go-to’ collection that does the trick.

What validates the claim that Johnny Winter is perhaps one of our highest grade of guitarists are the many statements from solid players that include Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Angus Young (AC/DC), Eddie Van Halen, Gregg Allman, Robby Krieger (Doors), Pete Townshend, who said of this set, “…so worth waiting for.”, Pat Travers, Glenn Tipton (Judas Priest), Carlos Santana, and others.

No one will ever be completely pleased with inclusions in any set of this kind.  (That’s why I say nothing works best but the entire collection of albums.) But, to have such a musical snapshot of Johnny Winter that  True To The Blues: The Johnny Winter Story provides is more than an excitement, it is truly a celebration of one of Rock’s greatest guitarists.

Thank you, Johnny, for all of those years, and all of those songs found within this 4CD Box. And thank you, Legacy, for bringing it to us.

Release Date: February 25, 2014
Label: Legacy Recordings
Availability: 4CD Box

New Smoke Fairies Album Coming In April

SmokeFairiesSmokeFairiesEarly last year, I came into contact with an incredible band by the name of Smoke Fairies.  For those that do not remember, here’s the brief rundown.  Smoke Fairies are a gifted UK folk duo who met in high school in Sussex.  Since, the girls (Katherine Blamire/Jessica Davies) have created some intriguing music, especially on their last album. their music is a cook mix of folk, blues, and other elements that can entice you to listen to more than you’re presented with. Their voices add elegance to their songs.

They released their last album, Blood Speaks, in May of 2012.  It was an incredible album that has lots of return juice to it.  In fact, after posting my review of the album (read here), my inbox  literally overflowed with discussion.  Including one from a President of a popular record label. Yes, Smoke Fairies are that good. they not only deliver on their folk music leanings, but they add significantly to a feel of time as well.  There are songs that feel anchored to the ’60s.  And the occasional psychedelic sound makes them all the more interesting.

For those that know of them, then you are already privy to what I’m talking about.  But the good news awaits, fan or possible new fan.

On April 14, the UK band will release their next album, a self-titled effort on Full Time Hobby Records (in the UK).  You’ll likely have to import the title, but what’s that for some great music.  As a matter of fact, many of you already import anyway.

Smoke Fairies (the album) and its twelve new songs will be issued on CD in a cardboard mini-LP sleeve, a 180g vinyl LP (with download rights), any format of digital download, and a very limited issue of a Deluxe Edition Box (details yet to come).


You can listen to the lead-off single from the album below (via YouTube).  The song, “Eclipse Them All“, has a psychedelic folk element going on. It’s a very cool song.  If you find it not to your taste, I suggest going backward and getting to know them that way.

A Jaco Pastorius Collector’s Release of Modern America Music…Period! The Criteria Sessions Expected In April

Jaco-Pastorius-Modern-American-Music-LP-and-CDMany decades back, a bass player by the name of Jaco Pastorius set the standard high for electric bass guitar. These days, he is recognized as one of the finest at his craft, particularly in his jazz leanings.  Jaco was a member of the famed Weather Report, adding to the already fine talent that comprised that band.  In addition, Jaco was a well sought after session man, playing for many on albums as diverse as Ian Hunter’s All American Alien Boy, Joni Mitchell, and a host of other luminaries.  In short, he was the bass player that many wished they could be.

His solo career began in 1975 with the release of his self-titled classic, which was followed by Word Of Mouth (1981).  And while we have multiple compilations, we have little of Jaco Pastorius full lengths.

Omnivore Records will release Modern American Music…Period! The Criteria Sessions.  What this album comprises is the set of tracks recorded for his Jaco Pastorius debut at Criteria studios but not released.  This album will contain eleven songs, six of which were transferred to acetate.  The album will contain new essays and rare photos. Robert Trujillo of Metallica helped to produce the release, and is author to one of the essays.

It is with great pleasure that I let you know of this upcoming release scheduled for Record Store Day, April 19.  The release is a limited edition one, scheduled for both CD, and multi-colored vinyl LP.  the LP will come with an insert with the essays, photos, and a download card for the MP3 files of the entire album.


3. PANS #1*
5. KURU*
9. BALLOON SONG (12-TONE) (Alternate)
10. TIME LAPSE (Alternate)


Side 1:
2. PANS #1*

Side 2:
1. KURU*

* From original Criteria acetate.
LP includes download of entire CD program

TAPSheet: Release Notes – 02/24/2014 (US Report)

Keep a watch on this page (and other fine sites) for the details on the upcoming reissue of Delicate Sound Of Thunder, the 1988 live set from Pink Floyd.  This set is scheduled for April 29.


Virgin Records have a new Adelitas Way album on the calendar for June 24.

New West Records will release new music from Rodney Crowell called Tarpaper Sky, scheduled for CD, DD, and vinyl LP on April 15.

RodneyCrowellTarpaper Sky

Mercury Records plan the release of a ReDISCovered LP Box for Rush April 15.

White Hinterland, who has left me in awe after their “Icarus” track, will be releasing the new album, Baby, on April 1 via Dead Oceans Records, a label I respect a lot.


Elektra plans the release of Duets featuring Linda Ronstadt, on April 8.

Life Journey from Leon Russell is slated for an April 1 release via UMe.

Leon Russell Life Journey

Mute Records will release You And The Night (Original Soundtrack) from M83, scheduled for CD and LP on April 1.


Rhino Records will issue an 8CD Box of Black Sabbath classics called The Complete Albums 1970-1978 on April 15.

BlackSabbath Complete

Epic Records have La Gargola coming from Chevelle on April 1.

On April 1, Polydor will reissue a 3CD Deluxe Edition of ABBA Gold.


Washington Square Records promises the release of Teeth Dreams, the new album from The Hold Steady, with a scheduled date of March 25.


Real Gone Music, in addition to the many fine collections arriving from the label, have Beg, Borrow & Steal – The Complete Cameo Recordings featuring The Ohio Express arriving on April 1.


Warner Brothers have the 4CD Rod Stewart Live Box promised so many months ago on the calendar for March 18.  The set is called Live 1976-1998 and features 56 unreleased live selections.

Frontiers Records will release Better Days Comin’ from Winger, scheduling for April 22.

Rounder Records have Carter Girl from Carlene Carter slated for April 8.  Carter Girl is her first album of new songs in more than a decade.

Parlophone To Reissue 2CD Delicate Sound Of Thunder From Pink Floyd

PinkFloydDelicateSoundOfThunderRecorded In 1988 over five nights at Nassau Coliseum in New York, this live recording with a Waters-less Pink Floyd band was a hit among fans. Released late 1988, just a few miraculous months after the recordings, the live set registered multi-million sales in the US alone.

Tracked with fifteen live son performances that include the likes of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, “Money”, “Another Brick In The Wall”, “Comfortably Numb”, and several other Pink Floyd classics including tunes from the  1987 Waters-less album, A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, Delicate Sound Of Thunder is still a beloved set among Pink Floyd aficionados.

Parlophone will reissue Delicate Sound Of Thunder on April 29.  There is little detail available on the set but as more becomes known, I’ll update this post.

Just enjoy the fact that it is coming.

In Memoriam: Bob Casale

DEVO back in the ’70s were quite the band.  With a quirky style, a frenzied re-imagining of the Stones’ classic, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, and a brave sound, the band that featured Mark Mothersbaugh, and his brother, Bob Mothersbaugh, the brother team of Bob and Gerald Casale, and Alan Myers, DEVO provided great satirical fun and a different way of music and videos.

As a collective group of music listeners, many of us gave our stamp of approval on excellent albums that generated hits like “Whip It”, “Working In The Coal Mine”, and the aforementioned “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, as well as a stream of minor hits.

It is sad that on February 17, Bob Casale, a prominent member of the most successful period of DEVO, passed away due to heart failure at the (way) too young age of 61.  He follows the death of Alan Myers, who died last year of cancer at the even younger age of 58.

Like Alan, we will miss Bob Casale.

Rest in Peace, Bob. The Great Band just got better.

Bob Casale DevoBob Casale

for mark

New Pink Mountaintops Album, Get Back, To Release In April

PinkMountaintops Get BackIf you like psych band, Black Mountain, who hails from Vancouver, then you may already be aware that it has side projects galore.  One of them involves the always beautiful, and vocally gorgeous Amber Webber, as well as Joshua Wells, both mainstays in Black Mountain.  Their band is called Lightning Dust.  Recently in 2013, they release an album called after a few previous issues dating back to their debut in 2007. That album, Fantasy, was an excellent set with the band’s “Diamond” kicking off a new style of music adopted for the new album.

But Black Mountain also has, at its core, a talented musician by the name of Sean McBean.  When he’s not driving the main vehicle, he has a side project himself by the name of Pink Mountaintops. And I have to say, that band is no slouch either when it comes to challenging songs.  And much like Black Mountain (who is due for a new release over the next year or so), Pink Mountaintops can create great music.

On April 29th, Jagjaguwar Records (an awesome label…really!) will release the new Pink Mountaintops album.  The new album is called Get Back.  Already, it has released a forerunner song with “Ambulance City”, which can be viewed below in their video for the track.

If you haven’t heard of Black Mountain, Pink Mountaintops, or even Lightning Dust, I beg you to remedy that so that you can make your own decisions on whether or not they will suit you.  Bear in mind that there are differences in all three bands.  Lightning Dust is synth-oriented, Black Mountain employs a psychedelic-era stoner sound, and Pink Mountaintops is more straight forward rock and roll.

The new album will issue on CD, DD, and LP.  The vinyl will offer DD rights with its purchase.  There will also be a bundle packaging their CD and LP that will include an 11″x17″ poster, and a custom limited edition embroidered patch featuring the Pink Mountaintops logo.  If you pre-order the CD. LP, or the bundle, you will get access to the entire album in a zip file containing 320kbps mp3s of the entire album. Better yet, the files will be distributed a full two weeks (April 15) before the actual release date of the ten track album.

I really have April 29th on my calendar!

Living Years From Mike + The Mechanics To Get A 2CD 25th Anniversary Edition

00000tmpIf you were a Genesis fan, then you were pleased to get more music from Genesis co-founder, Mike Rutherford as he formed his new band back in 1985.  That new band was called Mike + The Mechanics.  It employed the vocals of Paul Young (Sad Cafe), and Paul Carrack (Ace/Squeeze).  With the ‘out of the gate’ Top10 hits of “Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)”, and “All I Need Is A Miracle”, both from the release of the self-titled debut, and both featuring different lead vocalists with Young On “All I Need Is A Miracle”, and Carrack on “Silent Running”, the UK band was set for the duration of their tenure.

Mike + The Mechanics followed up the extraordinary debut with the release of their 1988 LP hit, Living Years.  That album provided their Number One hit, “The Living Years”, as well as a few released lesser single hits (“Nobody’s Perfect”, “Seeing Is Believing”).  The song, “The Living Years” was nominated for a Grammy in 1990, losing to Bette Midler’s rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings”.

As previously noted in a TAPSheet post, Atlantic Records will release a 2CD 25th Anniversary Edition of Living Years with a bonus disc of 10 live tracks, and will additionally provide a brand new recording of “The Living Years”.  The set will offer a 24-page booklet to further help celebrate the album’s lasting quality.

The 2CD 25th Anniversary Edition of Living Years is scheduled for release on April 8.

New Old Bands To Enjoy

As I’ve steadily moved into an older age, I often looked back to glance at what I’ve musically listened to, been a part of, collected, and attended.  I’m extremely proud of the way I have been able to diversify my appreciation over the decades.  One style led to another, which led to another.  In the ’70s, as I listened to ambient offerings, which came, in large part, by way of ’60s-era progressive bands heard on FM radio, I found myself often going to classical releases.  Those fueled my intense love for many of the greats including Holst, Beethoven, Grofe, Chopin, Debussy, Ravel, Philip Glass, and well, the list goes on and on.

As an example, listening to Tomita provided a search into the composers he re-imagined in his many RCA releases.  ELP provided their share of further exploration, as did Tangerine Dream, and many, many others.


However, in looking back, I realize just how many I’ve missed along the way.  In my aging years, it has become a top priority to not only continue hearing new music, but to look back and occasionally search who I may have missed along the way.  And there are many.  As a result, I have started to react as if I were still in the ‘good old days’ as I found a band that I may have remembered, brushed aside, or not heard of at all.

As always, I’m reminded of TAP readers, who generally share the same love of music as they have grown within much of it.  And, of course, there are the younger readers that come in to find something to listen to.

I wonder that if you do the same, or are thinking of “going back”, which band(s) would you consider giving the time of day to?  If you have started this project already, I’d be curious as to who you have chosen, and if will you go through their entire catalog to help supplement your currently defined loves.

I’m here to tell you it has been quite rewarding, if not extremely time-consuming.  However, we only get one crack at this, and I want to go down with as much music in me as is possible.

Jackson Browne’s Late For The Sky To Reissue In April

JacksonBrowneLateForTheSkyJackson Browne has long been a favorite among the crowd.  In fact, many wonderful musicians can be traced through his tree.  Once a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, his songs helped to fuel some of their catalog offerings (“These Days”, “Holding”).  With a bit of time in NYC’s famed Greenwich Village, followed by a permanent move to LA, Jackson fell in with a grand slate of musical luminaries that include Glenn Frey (Eagles), Warren Zevon, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Waddy Wachtel, Dan Fogelberg, JD Souther, Neil Young, David Lindley, and Joan Baez to name a few.

Signed to Asylum Records, he released his debut album, Jackson Browne (or, as it’s come to be known, Saturate Before Using), in 1972.  That album gave up “Doctor My Eyes”, and the lesser hit, “Rock Me On The Water”.  With a strong wave of expectation and high anticipation for the next album, For Everyman released in 1973, however did not do as well as hoped, chart-wise, despite the fact that deep fans felt it to be a classic.  Rolling Stone calls it one of 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.

In 1974, Jackson Browne released what I (personally) consider to be his greatest offering to the world, Late For The Sky.  The album gave us the superlative title track, as well as many other deep and poignant looks into our lives as human beings in love, searching for meaning, growing up, and the loss of love (as heard in “Late For The Sky”).  Rolling Stone also includes this album as an essential in their 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.

On April 19, Inside Recordings (the Jackson Browne-owned label) distributed via Warner Music, will reissue this excellent album in what is currently listed as being an “updated” set. While that leaves a lot to the imagination, I can only suspect that, with Jackson Browne’s label being involved, it’s gong to be a righteous reissue.

I am greatly excited for this one!