Review: The Progressive Blues Experiment

Johnny Winter is perhaps one of the first rock guitarists I paid attention to. My first taster was his cover of Johnny B. Goode on a cheap rock compilation that featured other acts like Ted Nugent, Scorpions and Uriah Heep amongst others. But until now, I haven’t gave my full attention to his back catalogue. It seems appropriate then that I start on his debut record, The Progressive Blues Experiment.

On his debut album, Winter plays with a three piece band handling the vocals, guitar, mandolin and mouth harp by himself. Along for the ride on bass is Tommy Shannon known for his time with Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Turner on drums. The music features a lot of cover versions, Winter only contributes four song writing credits of the ten tracks presented here. Much like other young blues artists of the time, the covers are tastefully done. You’ll find great renditions of B.B. King’s It’s My Own Fault and Sonny Boy Williamson’s, Help Me amongst others.

The one real flaw this album has is the primitive stereo mix. Much like bands like The Jeff Beck Group, John Mayall & The Blues Breakers and early Fleetwood Mac, the panning is very off making the music quite uncomfortable to listen to, especially in headphones. A lot of the drums (with exception of the odd cymbal) are panned into the right channel alongside the vocals whilst the lead guitar is spread out between left, right and centre. This kind of issue is a pain to listen to, no matter how good the music is and The Progressive Blues Experiment is no different.

The Progressive Blues Experiment is a great album, it really is. It is a hard hitting, extremely energetic blues rock record that has aged rather well musically. From a technical perspective, it hasn’t. But if you are experienced enough to fold down the audio into mono, you’ll find a nice full sound and a much better listening experience. I highly recommend you do so, it is worth it.

Rating : 8 / 10

Where to buy :

Track Listing :

  1. Rollin' and Tumblin'
  2. Tribute to Muddy
  3. I Got Love If You Want It
  4. Bad Luck and Trouble
  5. Help Me
  6. Mean Town Blues
  7. Broke Down Engine
  8. Black Cat Bone
  9. It's My Own Fault
  10. Forty-Four