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The Best of the Modern Years by Johnny "Guitar" Watson

To paraphrase Myron Cohen, "Everybody got to come from someplace" -- Charlie Parker begat Cannonball Adderley and Phil Woods, Thelonious Monk begat Andrew Hill, and so on. Re: the blues and its bastard cousin rock & roll, Johnny "Guitar" Watson (1935-1996) begat Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa (even recording with Zappa on a few occasions -- check the albums Thing Fish and Them or US). Outside of historians/fanatics, few know this -- especially since Watson "reinvented" himself as a rascally, pimpmobile-driving merchant of Funk, having several hits in the 70s & 80s ("A Real Mother For Ya"). But in the 1950s, Watson was an ace blues guitarist, synthesizing the influences of T-Bone Walker and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown (a WAY underrated guitarist if there ever was one) and added his own brand of bodaciousness and sharkskin-jacket cool. In a rollicking blues-strongly-leaning-towards-R&B context, he did weird notes, unexpected dissonances and searing sustains long before Hendrix set his first guitar afire. Vocally, he was no slouch, either - no Ray Charles or Little Willie John he, but hearty and spirited with plenty of sly, urban suavity to impress the ladies. This set collects his mid-50s recordings for the Modern label (duh), & it has the goods, complete with unrefined (by today’s "standards") but sharp audio quality and swell liner notes from Billy Vera - it’s a party that not only guitar fanatics shouldn’t miss!!!

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Johnny "Guitar" Watson
  • CD Title: The Best of the Modern Years
  • Genre: Blues
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Blue Note
  • Rating: Five Stars
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