The Edgar Winter Band
Enough music has been amassed during Edgar Winter’s nearly 50-year career to keep one busy reviewing and appraising its merits for weeks, from Texas-bred soul to Top 40 pop to experimental keyboard works to sax-driven sideman duties. But in the end, everything comes down to two hits. Both came from the same album, were released six months apart and sound like the works of two different artists. Interestingly enough, those songs, which landed Winter on radio in 1973, have an unexpected tie-in to his newest music.
The two songs are “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride,” singles from “They Only Come Out at Night,” the breakthrough album credited to The Edgar Winter Group. The former was a rock and boogie instrumental laden with hearty guitar and sax riffs that took off into the cosmos with a then-novel blast of synthesizer. “Free Ride” shifted to pristine rock and pop.
Winter’s career, of course, covers far more ground than those two entries. His second and third albums were blasts of brassy rock and soul by the then-dubbed Edgar Winter’s White Trash. There also were collaborations with older brother Johnny Winter (most notably, the 1976 live album “Together”) that took the siblings to more traditional shades of rock, boogie and blues.
Now we get to where history essentially repeats itself. The guitarist on “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride” was Ronnie Montrose, who left The Edgar Winter Group after the release of “They Only Come Out at Night” to start his own career. Montrose had begun work on a solo record before his death in 2012 that was designed to use a different vocalist on each track. The album, “10 X 10,” was finally released last week. Winter is featured on the tune “Love is an Art” along with guitarist Rick Derringer, who replaced Montrose in The Edgar Winter Group.
Winter continues to tour regularly at age 70. The name of his ensemble has changed ever so slightly to The Edgar Winter Band, but the repertoire covers much of his extensive career, from White Trash-era soul to blues-rock covers to, of course, the two hits that made Winter such a sensation in the ’70s.
Guided By Voices
Remember The Dame, the fabled Main Street music club demolished in 2008 so the glacially paced construction of what is still not CentrePointe could begin? If so, think back to when the venue opened in spring 2003. The first national touring act to hit its stage (playing the Friday of the Dame’s first weekend of business) was Guided by Voices. Amazingly, that was the band’s first-ever visit to Lexington. Equally astonishing is that the Dayton, Ohio-bred outfit has largely been absent from Central Kentucky ever since.
Guided By Voices was an indie sensation throughout the 1990s, rifling out two- to three-minute songs full of garage-rock immediacy, strong pop consciousness and almost punkish abandon. With vocalist and principal songwriter Robert Pollard at the helm, the numerous GBV lineups would record almost as incessantly as they toured. Even when the group disbanded, which it did twice, Pollard would release solo albums with the same frequency as GBV. Sometimes you could catch the band in regional clubs. In other instances, Pollard’s solo act would receive high-profile attention, including an opening gig for a 2006 concert by Pearl Jam at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati.
If you are to believe the combined discographies of Pollard recordings in out and out of GBV, the new album, “How Do You Spell Heaven,” is record number 101. Listen to it next to such early GBV classics as 1994’s “Bee Thousand,” and the new record sounds sleek and sparse, with songs including “King 007” and the “Tenth Century” edging ever closer to melancholy pop.
Pollard and the newest GBV roster finally make their way back to Lexington on Friday night with a performance at The Burl.