Record #415: The Edgar Winter Group – They Only Come Out at Night (1972)

In the 1940s, in perhaps one of the greatest strokes of fate in rock and roll history, John and Edwina Winter—their real last name—gave birth to two sons with albinism.

They encouraged both sons—Johnny and little Edgar—to pursue musical pursuits.

The era of their birth, their albinism, and their nurtured talents paved the way for them to become mega stars in the glam rock scene in the 1970s.

They Only Come Out At Night, Edgar’s opus, is far more restrained than the over the top glam rock tribute to the grotesque, as promised by the cover.

Instead,  it’s a diverse blues-rock album that hits gritty honky tonk (“We All Had a Real Good Time”), glam metal (“Undercover Man”), and some of the best damn pop rock ever made (“Free Ride”). They even manage a bit of tenderness, with the beautiful ballad “Autumn.”

Not to mention the instrumental monstrosity of “Frankenstein,” which is one of the best wordless jams in rock and roll history, and the only reason I picked this up (I forgot “Free Ride” was on this album).

To add to the album’s chameleonic nature, Edgar splits lead vocal duties with guitarist Dan Hartman, who sings the mega hit “Free Ride.” Dan’s voice is cleaner and maybe a little better, technically speaking (see: “Free Ride”). But from Edgar’s maw comes a gravelly, monstrous timbre that captures the soul of rock and roll. Especially on “Undercover Man,” where he takes that roar into an almost cartoonish falsetto (which rocks, don’t get me wrong).

All in all, They Only Come Out Night is a piece of dad rock that actually rocks.

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