Edgar Winter

Take a Free Ride

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While it's true that the elaborately arranged funk, rhythm & blues, and jazz that Edgar Winter released on his string of Columbia albums was nowhere near as successful as his brother Johnny's guitar-slinger electric blues-rock -- save for a pair of big hit singles -- the quality of the albums he did release for the label really stands up over time and deserves reconsideration. This ten-track super-budget compilation by Sony attests to the fact that Winter's talent on reeds, woodwinds, and keyboards -- as a writer as well as an arranger -- was no fluke. Had he not been the brother of Johnny (let's face it, in the 1970s the electric guitar was the sexiest instrument of all, and for the most part remains so in the 21st century), Edgar no doubt would have achieved greater recognition and success. His two big hits are here in the form of the title track and the enormously successful "Frankenstein" (which was, to be fair, perhaps the most un-ambitious track he ever recorded), but so are some other real gems such as the studio version of J.D. Loudermilk's "Tobacco Road," the psychedelic jump blues of "Jump Right Out" (which may owe a debt to Mose Allison, but takes it to a whole different level), and the jazzed-up blues of "Dying to Live." There is also a fine reading of his semi-successful single "Keep Playin' That Rock 'n' Roll." For the money, this is a solid comp, and an excellent entry into the world of Edgar's own music.

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