Graham Reid | | 1 min read
By the time Johnny Guitar Watson made the album of which this was the title track, he was 42, had been on about 15 different labels and had really paid his dues: he'd started recording at 17, been something of an r'n'b star in the Fifties and by the Seventies had edged his way to streetcorner funk.
He pioneered feedback on Space Guitar in '54, was the original Gangster of Love (in 1958, a gold record for Steve Miller when he covered it), in the mid Sixties hooked up with songwriter Larry Williams (they produced Beatle Time Parts 1 & 2), produced sessions for Cannonball Adderley, recorded with uber-fan Frank Zappa, started getting awards and recognition in the early Seventies, his album Ain't That a Bitch in '76 was a soul funk classic . . .
Yet for many he remained well off the radar. Most only heard of him when he collapsed and died on stage in Japan in '96.
But guitar players knew who he was and his influence was felt by Zappa, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Steve Miller, Sly Stone, George Clinton . . .
Watson wasn't without humour either and on this cut he funks around with a martial beat, but it's all in the bassline, stinging guitar funk and funky synth. He played them all (plus Hammond, congas and other percussion) -- as well as sang.
And of course wrapped it up in a very cheap and silly cover which looks like it was shot in half an hour.
Still, Johnny didn't have time to waste: he had to produce, arrange, sing, play, tour . . .
He was busy being a funk-star who went beyond the call of duty..
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