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Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Johnny "Guitar" Watson (King LP 857)

Side 1:
01. Cuttin' In
02. Embraceable You
03. Broke And Lonely
04. What You Do To Me
05. Gangster Of Love
06. Highway 60

Side 2:
01. Those Lonely, Lonely Feelings
02. Posin'
03. That´s The Chance You´ve Got To Take
04. I Just Wants Me Some Love
05. Sweet Lovin' Mama
06. You Can't Take It With You

Thanks to Marv for contributing this reconstitution of a King LP which was originally released in December 1963. The album includes two tracks from Watson's first recordings as named artist for Federal in 1953 (as Young John Watson), with the rest of the tracks coming from his 1961 - 1963 spell recording for King, by which time he was billed as Johnny "Guitar" Watson.

John Watson Jr. was born in Houston, Texas, in 1935. He learned how to play guitar at an early age and was influenced not only by the music but also by the flashy stageshows of T-Bone Walker and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown.

At the age of fifteen he moved to Los Angeles where he quickly became involved in the R&B scene, not initially as a guitarist, but as piano player and occasional vocalist with Chuck Higgins and the Mellotones. Watson's first recordings were with the Higgins band for Combo, including several sides such as "Motorhead Baby" and "Just Won't Treat Me Right" which featured Young John's vocals and piano. These sides show a distinct Amos Milburn influence which was still evident when he left the Higgins outfit and started recording for King subsidiary label Federal in 1953.

Watson's first two sessions for Federal in January and May 1953 saw him continuing to record as a pianist and vocalist with guitars being played by Wayne Bennett and Harold Grant. However for his final session for Federal in February 1954 Watson took over on guitar, with the sides including the flashy instrumental showcase "Space Guitar."

In 1955 to early 1956 Watson recorded for RPM and with his guitar playing very much to the forefront he was now billed as Johnny "Guitar" Watson. Tracks recorded for RPM included a cover of Earl King's "Those Lonely, Lonely Nights," plus "Hot Little Mama," "So Tired," "I'm Gonna Hit That Highway" and "Three Hours Past Midnight."

After leaving RPM, Watson spent the subsequent few years drifting from label to label, usually with only one recording session at each. Between 1956 and 1961 he recorded for Dig, Keen, All Stars, Class, Goth, Arvee, and Escort. One record worth mentioning from this period is his first recording of "Gangster Of Love" which he would re-record for King in 1963.

In July 1961, at his first session for King, Watson moved away from straight blues guitar and singing by recording in a much more "pop" style with accompanying strings and vocal chorus. Tracks included the standards "Embraceable You" and "The Nearness Of You" but it was the more country sounding "Cuttin' In" which gave him a big R&B hit. Also recorded at this session was the stomping dance novelty "Posin'."

His second King session in October 1961 was in a soul vein and all four tracks are present on this LP. See below for recording date details. Watson's next King session (December 1962) was backed by a Johnny Otis led group with a female backing chorus. One track from this session is on the LP, the impassioned "That's The Chance You've Got To Take," which fits in well with the October 1961 sides.

The last King session in May 1963 saw Watson re-record two of his RPM and Keen sides - "Gangster Of Love" and "Those Lonely, Lonely Nights" the latter being retitled "Those Lonely, Lonely Feelings" for its release on this LP.

Watson's subsequent career was long and fruitful, including a period recording and performing with Larry Williams, and a reinvention as a funk artist in the 1970s complete with pimptastic clothes, accessories, hairstyle, and hit albums such as "Ain't That A Bitch," "A Real Mother For Ya" and "Funk Beyond The Call Of Duty." His career kept going through the '80s and into the '90s when he had another hit album with "Bow Wow" but, alas, it all came to an end when he suffered an onstage heart attack in Yokahama in 1996.

Recording dates:

01. Cuttin' In - 21st July, 1961
02. Embraceable You - 21st July, 1961
03. Broke And Lonely - 17th October, 1961
04. What You Do To Me - 17th October, 1961
05. Gangster Of Love - 14th May, 1963
06. Highway 60 - 20th January 1953
07. Those Lonely, Lonely Feelings - 14th May, 1963
08. Posin' - 21st July, 1961
09. That´s The Chance You´ve Got To Take - 14th December, 1962
10. I Just Wants Me Some Love - 17th October, 1961
11. Sweet Lovin' Mama - 17th October, 1961
12. You Can't Take It With You - 1st February, 1954

- All tracks recorded in Los Angeles.

Original release details:

Highway 60 / No I Can't - Federal 12120 - March 1953 (as Young John Watson)

Gettin' Drunk / You Can't Take It With You - Federal 12183 - May 1954 (as Young John Watson)

Embraceable You / Posin' - King 5536 - August 1961

Cuttin' In / Broke And Lonely - King 5579 - December 1961

I Just Wants Me Some Love / The Nearness Of You - King 5607 - March 1962

What You Do To Me / Sweet Lovin' Mama - King 5666 - July 1962

Cold, Cold Heart / That's The Chance You've Got To Take - King 5716 - February 1963

Gangster Of Love / In The Evenin' - King 5774 - July 1963

Those Lonely, Lonely Feelings - this LP, King LP 857 - December 1963

Johnny "Guitar" Watson (King LP 857) - ripped at a modest but still effective 128 kbps. Artwork from the internet with gratitude to the original uploaders.

Recommended further listening -

King Masters CD - KCD 6004

The above CD has 20 tracks, 12 of which are from the Federal sessions, with the remainder being early 1960's King tracks.

1 comment:

Gill said...

Thanks Mano, looking forward to this one.