He released nearly 30 albums of blues and blues-rock in his 40-plus-year career, and delivered countless memorable concerts as well. His death in the summer of 2014 at the age of 70 left an unfillable void in the international blues community. Step Back is his final studio album, and it follows his 2011 release Roots in paying tribute to his various blues influences, and, like Roots, it is essentially a series of duets with all-star guests, with Eric Clapton, Ben Harper, Billy Gibbons, Joe Perry, Dr. John, Leslie West, Brian Setzer, and Joe Bonnamassa helping out this time around. Produced by Winter's guitarist, Paul Nelson, the album is full of gritty, soaring guitar, the kind of straightforward blues-rock style Winter has always been known for, and it's obvious over his last two albums that Winter still found joy and excitement in it all, and he went out playing perhaps as well as he ever had, having learned the nuances of these classic blues songs inside and out. Highlights here include versions of Lightnin' Hopkins' "Mojo Hand" (with Aerosmith's Joe Perry), Bobby Bland's "Don't Want No Woman" (with Eric Clapton), Fats Domino's "Blue Monday" (with Dr. John), and Gatemouth Brown's "Okie Dokie Stomp" (with Brian Setzer), and even with all the guests, it's still Winter's show. Nothing here is innovative or particularly startling, though, but it's all solid, and it's comforting to know that Winter went out in peace with the blues and his legacy, and most importantly, without his skills diminishing.
-- All Music