Johnny Winter's Third Degree
Sonet Records SNTF 965 (1986)
Johnny's back with a hot and heavy batch of blues, featuring guests Dr. John, plus Tommy Shannon and Uncle John Turner (the original Johnny Winter trio from Texas) plus two solo songs with Johnny on National steel guitar! Johnny's most varied Alligator album, from pure Delta blues to rockin' boogies. A real scorcher!
"Unparalleled fired-up energy, immaculate choice of material, marvelous acoustic National Steel guitar...gutsy, churning blues" - Blues & Rhythm
Review of 3rd Degree by STEREO 6/87:
Intercord (Germany) press release of "Third Degree"
Orignal Liner Notes
I REALLY LIKE THIS RECORD. It's got a lot of different kinds of blues on it, more variety.
First, there's Casey, Johnny and Ken.. To me, these guys are the cream of the crop as far as blues today. They can play everything. They're always challenging,too. They're right in the pocket, and make me want to play better.
Then, there's Dr. John. Mac is someone I've known since the early '60s, and I've wanted to record with him for quite a while. He's got that New Orleans flavor that nobody else can do. He knows a lot of great old songs that I don't know, which is excellent because he comes up with songs that I have a good time playing! Our musical roots are so similar that we mesh real well. I hope we can work together more in the future.
A lot of my fans and friends have been asking me when I was gonna do some more acoustic stuff. I think we got a couple of very nice ones on this album. Actually, I was never interested in playing acoustic guitar until I discovered those metal Nationals back in '68. I fell in love with that nasty sound. It reminds me of a garbage can with wire on it. It's got all that metal ring to it, a real bluesy sound. On this album, I used two different Nationals, an old one for all the slide stuff and a newer one for the fretting. I had to practice for about a month before we made the record because they're much harder to play than an electric guitar and I don't play an acoustic on the road. It's a challenge to play, but it's worth it, because before there was electricity guitars like this were all blues musicians had. And if you can't do it, if you have to have an electric guitar to play the blues, it's not a good feeling. I had to be able to master that guitar.
I had dreamed about playing with Tommy and Red again ever since we broke up back in 1970 because I don't think any of us really ever wanted that band to break up I don't feel like I could have made it without them in the first place. They were the first musicians ever to come to me and say, "We love what you do. We don't care if we make any money, we're willing to do straight blues, whether we make it or not." It was the first time I ever had a straight blues band. Up to that point, I had to play soul music -- Top 40, Beatles music, a little bit of everything. I said they were crazy we'd starve to death for sure playing nothing but blues. In about six months we did starve. Red's mother had a beauty shop, and we practiced at the beauty shop after hours late at night. Red stayed in the extra room, and Tommy slept on the couch. And those guys, if they hadn't done that, nobody would ever have heard of me or known that I was a blues guitar player. It was such a good feeling when we finalIy did make it playing straight blues. There was a feeling we had when we played together because we cared so much about each other and the music. It felt great to work with those guys and it still does. To get together in the studio again after 15 or 16 years ... and I feel like we played better on this record than we did back in Texas! It was really a dream come true to be able to work together again and show everybody we still got it.
"It makes a lot of difference when you love the guys you're playing with--it's just bound to come out in the music."
It was the first time these two had worked together in the studio, and Dr. John's distinctive piano playing adds a New Orleans flavor to Winter's roadhouse blues. Three of the cuts join Winter with the trio responsible for his two Grammy-nominated Alligator works, Guitar Slinger and Serious Business. The band, comprised of Ken Saydak on piano, Johnny B. Gayden on bass and Casey Jones on drums was, according to Winter, ''the cream of the crop as far as blues players today". Third Degree confirmed Johnny Winter's presence on the list of top guitarists in the world.