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Back to the blues

Serious Business
Serious Business
By Johnny Winter

Alligator Records: 1985


This review first appeared in the September 25, 1985 issue of The Daily Aztec.

Johnny Winter was once described by Muddy Waters as "the only white man to understand the blues." Without getting into that whole line of racial weirdness, Winter was at the forefront of the American white blues movement during the late 1960s and early '70s before finding himself repackaged as a rock 'n' roller by his label.

But with his brother Edgar, Johnny Winter pioneered a style of blues-rock built upon by such groups as ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and, later, George Thorogood and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

However, in the late '70s, Winter's popularity diminished to the point he took a break from performing altogether, outside of a few sessions with Waters.

Now, though, Winter has returned to playing – and to the blues. His second album for the blues-specialty label Alligator, "Serious Business," re-establishes Winter as one of the premier blues artists playing today.

On this album, Winter is in top form and shows why he is considered one of the top blues-rock guitarists of all time. His playing, flawless; his timing, perfect; his feel for the instrument, instinctual.

Interestingly, Winter has traded in his Gibson Explorer for a Lazer electric. While the sound of his new axe is non-traditional and unique, Winter's style remains rooted in his Texas roots.

"Murdering Blues" shows Winter's ability to play guitar is unabated, and Jon Paris is fantastic on harmonica, balancing Winter's riffs. Winter rocks out like the days of old on "Good Time Woman," and "Serious as a Heart Attack" is likewise stellar.

Winter combines above-average speed with a depth of feeling not often found. The result is a style that remains unique and memorable without the earlier concessions to commercial interests.