Johnny Winter has always been a potent stage performer, as documented on numerous live recordings. His set at Woodstock, which has only recently been released in full, was a star-making turn, and after two studio albums for Columbia he formed a new quartet with members of the recently disbanded McCoys: Rick Derringer, Randy Jo Hobbs and Derringer's brother (performing under the original family name), Randy Zehringer. That group recorded under the name "Johnny Winter And," and with Bobby Caldwell replacing Zehringer, broke in their self-titled debut album with this 1970 set at New York City's Fillmore East. The set includes only two tunes from their then-new album (Winter's "Guess I'll Go Away" and Derringer's "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo"), with the remaining titles drawn from Winter's two previous albums.
The 1971 album Live Johnny Winter And documented the same line-up, repeating "Good Morning Little School Girl" (with improved fidelity here) while trimming "It's My Own Fault" and "Mean Town Blues" to half the length of these extended Fillmore jams. Another difference is that this 67-minute set forgoes the `50s rock covers that dominated the 1971 release. This disc opens with a pair of blues on which Winter takes incendiary, extended solos, and "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo" is played harder than Derringer's later hit single. The twenty-two minute "It's My Own Fault" is low and slow, providing more of the emotional shades Winter could bring to both his guitar playing and singing. Unfortunately, it's the only slow number in the set.
Those who've longed to hear the rest of the band's early set list are in for a treat. These are the live chapters of Winter's post-Woodstock band that were left out of the 1971 telling. The band's studio debut is represented by two tracks, the extended solos and jams stretch to their full post-psychedelic ballroom length, and covers of Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" and Muddy Waters' "Rollin' and Tumblin'" recount some of Johnny Winter's earlier recordings. Those who latched onto Rick Derringer during his pop-rock days with Edgar Winter and subsequent solo career will be floored by the fire in his blues playing. Collectors' Choice delivers this disc in a digipack with a four-panel booklet that includes knowledgeable liner notes by Richie Unterberger. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]