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Published: 2004/06/30
by Matt Brockett

I’m A Blues Man – Johnny Winter

Virgin Records 7087 6 18499 2 9 V

Johnny Winter is one badass bluesman. Not that anyone was disputing it, but as his latest album, I’m A Blues Man, suggests, he just wanted to not-so-gently remind everyone. For over 30 years he has been an integral part of the blues-rock world, and rightfully so, quite frankly. He shreds. His slide guitar is up there with the best of them, there’s no doubt about that. The man is so steeped in the blues that in 1962, at age 17, he was reluctantly invited onstage by B.B. King, played B.B.‘s guitar, and got a standing ovation. After Johnny produced and played guitar on four of Muddy Waters’ albums in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Waters was known to refer to him as his "adopted son" in interviews.

Johnny's current band includes drummer Wayne June, bassist Scott Spray, and harmonica player James Montgomery. "So Much Love," a song that Winter has wanted to record for years, really gives Montgomery a chance to show his truly impressive harp skills, and the entire band seems to fit Winter like a glove.

Lyrics like "I smell smoke, you must be burnin' me behind my back," from the tune "I Smell Smoke," work perfectly in a blues tune, but simply just wouldn't work anywhere else. That's part of what makes the blues the blues.

The winner of the Most Misleading Song Title Award is "The Monkey Song," a harmonica drenched straight up blues tune that appears to be Winter's metaphorical ode to women who shave a certain part of their body. Lyrics like "put a razor to that rascal/ make that monkey slick/ you know I love that monkey/ make it slick enough to lick" leave little room for any other interpretation. Winter has too much class to make his songs blatantly R-rated, but that old tomcat in the soul of every true Bluesman needs to be heard, so he does it low key, letting the ladies and everyone else know, he's not slowing down just yet.

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