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After the release of the Johnny Winter And album in 1970, blues-rock guitarist Johnny Winter retreated from the music biz to seek treatment for his increasingly debilitating heroin addiction. During the interim, his brother Edgar scored big with his They Only Come Out At Night album and its hit single “Frankenstein.” A common refrain during Edgar’s 1972 tour was “hey man, where’s your brother?”
The elder Winter brother came roaring back in 1973 with his fifth studio album, Still Alive & Well, the album title both an answer to the question on everybody’s mind as well as a statement of purpose. Working with his former bandmates Rick Derringer and Randy Jo Hobbs, Winter delivered a high-energy set of blues and roots-rock that included a handful of original songs by Winter and Derringer as well as classic covers like Big Bill Broonzy’s “Rock Me Baby” and the Rolling Stones’ “Let It Bleed.” The Stones also contributed a new song, “Silver Train,” for Winter to spin his magic on, and Winter’s original “Too Much Seconal” is a bluesy, personal warning about drug abuse. Derringer’s “Cheap Tequila” is a fine twangy roots-rocker while the title track is a defiant musical statement tailor-made for Winter’s slash ‘n’ burn fretwork.
Still Alive & Well performed admirably in spite of Columbia Records’ bland advertising efforts. This ad for the album is little more than a photo outtake from the session that provided the cover artwork. Displaying, perhaps, Winter’s undeniable albino chic, it says little of the guitarist’s return after three years or his impressive and expanding musical palette. The album peaked at #22 on the Billboard magazine album chart anyway, Winter’s fans obviously excited about the guitarist’s much-anticipated return.
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