Johnny Winter

Saints & Sinners

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Johnny Winter's sixth Columbia album was also his second since his comeback from drug addiction. Its predecessor, Still Alive and Well, had been his highest charting effort. Saints & Sinners was just as energetically played, but its mixture of material, including '50s rock & roll oldies like Chuck Berry's "Thirty Days," Larry Williams' "Bony Moronie," and Leiber & Stoller's "Riot in Cell Block #9," recent covers like the Rolling Stones' "Stray Cat Blues," and a couple of originals, was more eclectic than inspired. (Van Morrison completists should note that the album also contains Winter's cover of Morrison's "Feedback on Highway 101," a typical bluesy groove song that Morrison recorded for his 1973 Hard Nose the Highway album but dropped. Winter's is the only released recording of the song.) Abetted by the members of the old Johnny Winter Band -- Rick Derringer, Randy Jo Hobbs, and Richard Hughes -- plus his brother Edgar Winter and Dan Hartman, Winter produced forceful hard rock focused on his searing lead guitar runs and rough-edged voice. It was the less-impressive choice of material that kept this collection from matching its predecessor. Originally released in February, 1974, Saints & Sinners was reissued in February, 1996 with the previously unreleased song "Dirty," a Winter original, added. The slide guitar-and-flute track is not consistent with the rest of the album, but it is interesting to hear. Wonder who played the flute?

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