Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gangster Of Love

The early recordings of Johnny "Guitar" Watson have been reissued yet again under the title "The Original Gangster of Love: 1953-1959." This material is essential to many blues and early rock fans and should interest anyone curious about the evolving role of the electric guitar in popular music. These are great tracks with hot guitar, horns, piano and great singing. This isn't the rural sound of Southern blues or even the stripped down Chicago style. This is blues as it's evolving into rock and R&B - an urban sound played not by older players with delta roots, but a hot-shot eighteen-year-old (in 1953)in Los Angeles. "Space Guitar" is an instrumental that points in a new direction for the time while "Hot Little Mama" is the kind of hard-edged blues swing that evokes the later recordings of Kim Wilson, Roomful of Blues, and Kid Ramos. The playful boasting of "Gangster of Love" fits somewhere between Ray Charles and Snoop Dog. Essential American music.

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