Edgar Winter - vocals, keyboards, sax, percussion; Ronnie Montrose - guitar, vocals; Dan Hartman - bass, vocals; Chuck Ruff - drums
After breaking up the horn/gospel inspired White Trash big band, Edgar Winter returned in 1972 with the lean and mean four-piece Edgar Winter Group. With it came his landmark, multi-platinum album, They Only Come Out At Night. This short but electrifying show, taped in Santa Monica in February of 1973, features the original line-up, including ace guitarist Ronnie Montrose (who departed after the Night record and Winter's 72/73 world tour to start his own group with an unknown singer named Sammy Hagar).
There are only a few songs on this early recording, which was among the very first shows taped for the still unknown King Biscuit Flower Hour, which debuted that spring. Still, there is enough here to know what an electrifying, chills-down-yer-spine performer Edgar was then, and still is now.
On this recording he does a kick-ass version of "Rock N' Roll Boogie Woogie Blues," as well as a high-powered remake of the Freddy Cannon classic, "Nu'orlins." But the real highlight comes with Winter's super-charged 11-minute version of "Tobacco Road." Both Winter and Eric Burdon & War did memorable versions of this 1963 Nashville Teens classic song in 1970. It is debatable which group had the better rendition, but there is no doubt that Winter's performance remains the best version ever performed on a live stage.
After spending several years as part of the backup band for his famous sibling, Johnny Winter, Edgar landed a record deal of his own on Epic Records (sister label to Johnny's label, Columbia Records). His initial solo debut, Entrance, in 1970, was praised by critics and had some great material (including his fiery studio remake of "Tobacco Road") but failed to make any substantial impact as a big seller. Winter returned in 1971 with a stunning R&B/rock opus and an eight-piece horn-driven band called Edgar Winter's White Trash (a reference to the fact that both he and Johnny are albinos). The group did a solid year of touring, and made one memorable double live album entitled Roadwork, before Edgar Winter decided it was time to get lean and mean.
The solution for Edgar Winter was to revamp his set up with a down-to-the-bone four piece rock 'n' roll machine. Hence the Edgar Winter Group, which debuted in 1972 with Winter on keyboards, sax and percussion, Dan Hartman on bass, drummer extraordinaire Chuck Ruff, and a sassy Bay Area guitarist named Ronnie Montrose, who had worked with Van Morrison, among others. The result was a brilliant pop album called They Only Come Out at Night, which included several hits singles ("Hangin' Around," "Free Ride," and his career single, the instrumental "Frankenstein"). This show was recorded at the onset of the band's 18-month run at the top of the charts. Edgar has released several excellent LPs since They Only Come Out At Night, but has never matched the commercial success he saw with that 1972 release.
Both Edgar and Johnny Winter went on to record an album together, and Winter eventually reunited with Rick Derringer in the 1990s for a live LP and a tour of Japan. He continues to work on the road today as part of Ringo Starr's All Starr Band and with an updated lineup of the Edgar Winter Group.
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