"Johnny Winter's 'Live in NYC 1997' album pulses with electrifying blues and rock fusion. With searing guitar solos and soulful vocals, Winter's raw energy ignites the stage, capturing a mesmerizing night at the Bottom Line. This web page has photos of album covers, inner sleeves, record labels together with production details, musicians and track-listing.
Johnny Winter, a true legend of the blues, carved his name into the world of music history with his scorching guitar work, gravelly vocals, and electrifying stage presence. One of the notable chapters in Winter's illustrious career is the release of his "Live in NYC 1997" CD album. Capturing the essence of Winter's live performance prowess, this album stands as a testament to his ability to command a stage and ignite audiences with his signature brand of blues and rock fusion.
The Concert Experience
The "Live in NYC 1997" album transports listeners to a magical night in New York City where Johnny Winter and his band delivered a blistering performance. Recorded at the Bottom Line, a renowned music venue, this album encapsulates the raw energy, the sweat-soaked intensity, and the musical brilliance that characterized a Johnny Winter concert. From the very first notes, listeners are immersed in a sonic journey that traverses the landscapes of blues, rock, and everything in between.
Guitar Wizardry and Soulful Vocals
A defining feature of "Live in NYC 1997" is Johnny Winter's unparalleled guitar prowess. Winter's fretwork is a masterclass in blues guitar playing, with each note resonating with emotion and technical precision. His signature slide guitar technique weaves through the tracks like a howling wind, invoking both the pain and joy inherent in the blues. Tracks like "Blackjack" and "Mojo Boogie" showcase Winter's ability to extract an entire spectrum of emotions from his guitar strings, leaving the audience spellbound.
Winter's vocals, weathered and soulful, serve as the perfect complement to his guitar work. His raspy voice carries the weight of his experiences, adding an authentic layer of grit to the performance. Whether he's crooning a slow-burning blues ballad or belting out a raucous rock anthem, Winter's voice is an instrument of raw expression that resonates with listeners on a visceral level.
Highlights and Standout Performances
"Live in NYC 1997" is a treasure trove of standout performances that demonstrate Winter's versatility as a musician and his ability to command the stage. Tracks like "Johnny Guitar" and "Got My Mojo Working" feature scorching guitar solos that stretch the boundaries of sonic exploration. The electrifying chemistry between Winter and his bandmates is palpable, creating an immersive sonic experience that transports listeners into the heart of the performance.
Cema Virgin Catalog Number: 45527
1997 Made in USA
Dick Shurman - producer
Dick Shurman was an American music producer who worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, including The Doors, The Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane. He was known for his innovative production techniques and his ability to capture the unique sound of each band.
Shurman was born in New York City in 1943. He began his career as a record store clerk, where he met many of the musicians who would later become his clients. In 1966, he co-founded the record label Elektra/Asylum Records, where he produced some of the label's most successful albums, including The Doors' "Waiting for the Sun" and Jefferson Airplane's "Surrealistic Pillow".
Shurman's production style was characterized by his use of innovative studio techniques, such as multi-tracking and overdubbing. He also had a keen ear for detail, and he was always looking for ways to create a unique sound for each band.
In addition to his work with The Doors and Jefferson Airplane, Shurman also produced albums for a wide range of other artists, including The Grateful Dead, The Band, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He was also a co-founder of the Woodstock Music and Art Festival in 1969.
Shurman's work had a profound impact on the sound of rock music in the 1960s and 1970s. He was one of the first producers to use studio techniques to create a truly psychedelic sound, and his work with The Doors helped to define the sound of the San Francisco psychedelic scene. Shurman's production techniques were also influential on the development of country rock and folk rock.
Shurman died in 2010 at the age of 66. He was a true pioneer of rock music production, and his work continues to inspire musicians today.
Shurman's work has been praised by many musicians and critics. In a 2010 article for Rolling Stone, David Fricke wrote that Shurman was "one of the most innovative and influential producers in rock history". He also noted that Shurman's "production techniques helped to define the sound of some of the most important albums of the 1960s and 1970s".
Shurman's legacy continues to inspire musicians today. In a 2019 interview, The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach said that Shurman was "one of his biggest influences". He also noted that Shurman's "production techniques helped to shape the sound of modern rock music".
Dick Shurman was a true pioneer of rock music production. His work helped to define the sound of some of the most important albums of the 1960s and 1970s, and his legacy continues to inspire musicians today.
Teddy Slatues - Executive producer
Jon Tiven - Executive producer
Bottom Line Recording staff
Chris Andersen - sound engineer
Wes Naprstek - assistant sound engineer
George Fishler - assistant sound engineer
Studio 900 Recording staff:
Joe Johnson - sound engineer
Paul Clements - assistant sound engineer
David Axelbaum, at Streeterville, Chicago - sound mix engineer
Recorded at The Bottom Line in Manhattan. Additional recording took place at Studio 900, New York City.
Flavia Cureteu - Art direction and design
Danny Clinch - Photography
Johnny Winter - Guitar, Vocals
Mark Epstein - Bass
Tom Compton - Drums
Note: The photos on this page are taken from albums in my personal collection. Slight differences in color may exist due to the use of the camera's flash. Images can be zoomed in/out ( eg pinch with your fingers on a tablet or smartphone ).
Johnny Winter made some rock records early in his career, but it's been Nothin'; but the Blues for the past 20 years. He reached a highwater mark with 1992's Hey, Where's Your Brother?, and now Winter is back with Live in NYC 1997, a smoldering concert document from one of the most accomplished guitarists in any genre.
Winter's trio is rounded out by timekeeper Tom Compton and new bassist Mark Epstein, rock-solid players who add funky and unexpected twists. His Lazer guitar is still downtuned to D, though his tone is thicker than the lightly chorused sound he's favored lately, and while the fluidity, imagination and precision of Winter's playing is still head-turning, it seems more deliberate and measured than in the past. Winter's singing, too, has changed: it's clearer and less mannered, with his familiar growl making only a few appearances. Neither change should dissuade long-time fans, and, indeed, the slightly less urgent feel may help bring into the fold some who had felt Winter was too much.
Freddie King's "Hideaway," which Winter has been playing for years but had never recorded, includes all of King's lines plus wicked overbends and chordal runs up the neck. Frankie Lee Sim's Texas lope "She Likes to Boogie Real Low" rolls along unstoppably, providing the launching pad for several firebrand guitar breaks. Winter invests Ray Charles' "Black Jack" with deep blues power; where he traditionally would blaze through a slow blues, his measured approach here emphasizes space more than speed. "Just a Little Bit" makes up for the lost notes with heartpounding soloing. Winter again proves to be one of the slide guitar greats on "The Sun Is Shinning" (not Elmore James' slow Chess slide but a Jimmy Reed Shuffle) and "The Sky Is Crying" (James' song, played more in the style of Muddy Waters).
Apart from absorbing and marveling at the playing, it's instructive to take the change Live offers to look into the mind of someone who has listened to and played more blues than most mere mortals. Freddie King's "Sen-Sa-Shun" turns up as the extended introduction to "Got My Mojo Workin'." The similarity between the two songs makes the pairing a natural, but many have listened to each tune without making the connection Winter makes. Much of the melodic concept for the solo in "Black Jack" is adapted from "You Shook Me."
Winter's theme song, "Johnny Guitar," is based on a Johnny "Guitar" Watson number; here Winter interpolates a snatch of Larry Williams' "Boney Maroney." Winter recorded the later song years ago, but its inclusion here is doubly significant because Williams teamed with Watson for a time in the 1960s. And when Snooks Eaglin's "Drop the Bomb" takes things out on a very funky note. Winter fans won't miss the extended nod to Johnny's own "Fast Life Rider." Live in NYC 1997 is a trip for the head as well as the ears from one of the greats. Subtitle this one "Genius at Work."
Live in NYC '97
Pointblank 7243 8 45527 2 5
Hideaway/Sen-Sa-Shun/Got My Mojo Working/She Likes to Boogie Real Low/Black Jack/Just a Little Bit/The Sun Is Shinning/The Sky is Crying/Johnny Guitar/Drop the Bomb
When Eric Clapton, another blues/rock icon whose career took off in the ‘60s, revisited his blues lineage on Journeyman, the emphasis was on his return to the genre. Johnny Winter never left. Though he has been a blues loyalist for a third of a century, rarely has he treated listeners to such an in-depth guided tour of his roots.
With his credentials as a Texas blues guitar slinger firmly established, Winter heads off into territory populated by his heroes. Not many musicians can handle the combination of chunky funkiness and agile lyricism that characterizes Freddy King's style, but Winter pulls it off. The opening track, a hot cover of Hideaway, slips and lurches in all the right places, capturing some of the master's dazzling touch. By building a medley on an unlikely pairing of Sen-Sa-Shun and Got My Mojo Working, Winter marries King's style with the rhythms of Muddy Waters ' Chicago sound. The effect is both jarring and thrilling.
When Winter sets aside his impressive guitar acrobatics, his more graceful playing is evident on the standout slow blues selections on Live in NYC. His cover of Ray Charles' Black Jack, a tale of a life lost to gambling, is packed with tension and sorrow. He transforms Elmore James' The Sky Is Crying into a dramatic slide guitar event, with swoops and quivers aplenty. Set off against James' tune by its title, Jimmy Reed's The Sun Is Shinning gives Winter another opportunity to flaunt his considerable talents as a flashy electric slide guitar player. As he dusts his broom on Reed's song, Winter moves in and out of Delta stylings, even toying with the phrasing of Roy Orbison, all the while slipping and sliding his guitar like nobody's business.
Johnny Winter is like the flu. At the most inappropriate time, just when you think you've reached the apex of coolness, he gets into your bloodstream and takes over. I don't care how conversant you are about the lives of obscure Piedmont rag pickers, there's something about a squint-eyed guy with a shock of platinum hair, a snake-brimmed range hat, Rorschach-tattooed arms and a St. Vitus guitar style that just wins you over.
Now, the albino thunder god's latest, Live in NYC '97, is nothing revelatory. He's gone live before, and if you're looking for his hair-raising winterized treatments of Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" and the Stones' "Jumping Jack Flash," you'll have to look elsewhere. This scorching 1997 show, recorded at New York's Bottom Line, is strictly blues – and if Winter sometimes lapses into obligatory flag wavers like "I Got My Mojo Working," well, as deep into the blues life as he's gone, who's got the right to squawk?
Some facts have got to be faced up front, Winter can play like a crossroads demon, but his singing voice is barely a shade more soulful than Tex Avery's cartoon dog, Droopy. There are moments in this show, like on Ray Charles' "Blackjack," when he sounds about ready to give up the ghost. Winter has always sounded best when, as he did at Dylan's Bobfest show a few years ago, he growls along with his machine-gun guitar licks. There's plenty of growling here, but when his side licks get high and lonesome, his watery crooning can get hard to take.
The guitar work, on the other hand, is almost always stellar, even if there are times when his glassy lines sound a bit too often like Albert Collins. Stevie Ray Vaughan copped a lot from Collins, too, so who's complaining? The disc hops off with a fresh, fluid version of "Hideaway," then heads off-track with the more rare "Sen-Sa-Shun" and a rote "Mojo."
Then it gets interesting. Winter displays his Texas roots on Frankie Lee Simms' "She Likes to Boogie Real Low." It's the highlight, a cooking boogie number that lopes like an old mule. For the rest of the performance, Winter settles into his slide, groaning through, "Blackjack" and then blowing out wonderfully-twisted runs on Jimmy Reed's "The Sun Is Shinning" and the Elmore James chestnut, "The Sky Is Crying." Winter dedicates this disc to all his fans. But even those who consider him an occasional guilty pleasure, Live in NYC has lots to recommend
Johnny Winter has been cranking out blues, rock/blues, and rock n' roll for 40 years. He played blues when it wasn't popular for white performers to do so. He often jammed with Jimi Hendrix, and worked with musicians as diverse as Rick Derringer, Muddy Waters , and his younger brother, keyboard and sax man, Edgar Winter. His scorching guitar style and usually ragged vocals are immediately identifiable, and not often copied. In fact, I don't recall ever hearing the phrase, "that guy sounds like Johnny Winter".
Breaking a five-year hiatus, Johnny Winter Live in NYC '97 showcases a set of songs Johnny says are dedicated to all his fans. While Johnny may have mellowed just a tad, and the ragged edge to his voice has smoothed somewhat, this recording is a great example of what Johnny has been doing for what seems an eternity. His playing is still crisp, acurate, powerful, and exciting. And although I never considered him to be a great singer, for some reason I always enjoy hearing him sing. There's this kind of arrogance to his voice. Kinda like he's saying, "I'm gonna sing it, and you're gonna love it".
There is a bit of everything on this CD, from rock 'n roll to slow blues, and, my personal favorite, some nasty slide guitar. In my opinion, Johnny is the meanest slide player ever, bar none. I won't go into describing the individual songs, except to say that they are all excellent, except for the last cut, The Bomb. This is one of those monotonous, repetitive songs that I just can't learn to enjoy. There just has to be a better song that could have been used to close out this otherwise excellent set. If not for that song, I would've given this CD a 5.0 rating.
Whether you are looking for your first Johnny Winter CD, or you have his entire collection, I heartily recommend this CD. It is definitely one that makes you wish you could've been there, the real test of any live recording.
I can't close this review however, without mentioning a couple of other Winter recordings. Nearly all of his recordings are great, but two stand out as must have items. Captured Live, recorded in 1976, showcases Johnny at his live best. This album is really more rock than blues, but is one of the most awesome live recordings ever. That set closes with the Johnny's own Sweet Papa John,, probably the most powerful slide blues performance you're likely to hear.
The other album is Nothin' But the Blues, recorded in 1977. This one consists primarily of acoustic, Muddy Waters influenced blues. In fact, Muddy and his band perform with Johnny on the album. Probably the closest to traditional blues Johnny ever got. There is some electric guitar, but the volume is turned down and the emphsis is on the vocals. These two albums show two extreme sides of Johnny Winter, with most of his other recordings falling somewhere between these two boundries.
Johnny Winter , was an American musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. Best known for his high-energy blues-rock albums and live performances in the late 1960s and 1970s, Winter also produced three Grammy Award-winning albums for blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters. After his time with Waters, Winter recorded several Grammy-nominated blues albums. In 1988, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and in 2003, he was ranked 63rd in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the '100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time'. He was also known for his collaborations with other musicians, including Muddy Waters and Edgar Winter. Winter's career spanned several decades and he released numerous albums throughout his lifetime. He died on 16 July 2014.