Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Johnny Guitar Watson At Uncle Pö's Carnegie Hall, Hamburg 1976

Johnny Guitar Watson
At Uncle Pö's Carnegie Hall, Hamburg 1976

This is a live 1976 German radio broadcast of Johnny 'Guitar' Watson from Hamburg that has just been made available on CD and download. Watson is backed by his Watsonian Institute comprised of Peter Martin, trumpet; Tommy Robertson - trombone; Paul Dunmall - sax; Gil Noble - piano, synthesizer; Bobby Howard - bass and Emry Thomas - drums, and the recording was made around the time of the "Ain't That A Bitch" album but the songs here range beyond the dance funk blues of that recording.

I have several videos and recordings of a number of Watson's live performances, but these are mostly later and the repertoire is somewhat different here. It opens with a cover of the Grover Washington hit "Mister Magic" on which Watson unleashes some pretty solid guitar, followed by the title track of one of his underrated Fantasy albums, "I Don't Want To Be a Lone Ranger," with more electrifying guitar on this song where he sings no one wants to be a lonely one, but Johnny wants to be the lady's only one. In addition to his seductive singing, one should note the horn arrangements as well as the jazzy guitar runs. It's follow wed by a terrific slow rendition of "Stormy Monday" in which he incorporates a bit of the lyrics of Jimmy Reed as well as some spectacular blues guitar. A strong funky "Superman Lover," is followed by the bravado of "Gangster of Love," the funky, topical trying to make ends meet of "Ain't That a Bitch," and then his rock and roll ballad "Cuttin' In." Watson was in first-rate form this evening and his band provides tight, crisp support.

A jam on the sensuous "I Need It," allows him to introduce and showcase his band members before a short closing instrumental closes nearly an hour of exceptional Johnny 'Guitar' Watson. I purchased this as a bargain priced download with digital booklet on iTunes for about $5 and believe the hard copy is bargain priced (although not that cheap). This would be highly recommended even if it was not so inexpensive, and at that price, any JGW fan needs this.

I purchased this as a download. Here is a live performance of Johnny doing "Gangster of Love."

No comments: