Johnny Winter returns to major-label distribution for the first time in eight years with The Winter of '88, released by Voyager Records via MCA. This is a project produced and engineered by Terry Manning, who also contributed some keyboards, and Manning's intent seems to have been to move Winter in a more commercial direction, specifically toward the synth-enhanced boogie of ZZ Top. That effect is particularly notable on the lead-off track, "Close to Me," and on "Show Me"; otherwise, Manning is more subtle. Still, after three straight blues albums for the independent Alligator Records label, Winter had established a pure blues pedigree, and a move back toward the mainstream may not sit well with his more purist fans. It isn't really that overt, for the most part, but this is clearly a more highly produced, more commercially intended record than any Winter has made since he left the CBS Records subsidiary Blue Sky after Raisin' Cain in 1980.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann