This fifth effort from the Austin guitar legend imparts more of Johnson’s uncompromising, daring eclectic odysseys. His three-decade career never ceases to amaze, showcasing an informed ability to evolve, divining fiery passionate rock, sparkling jazz, elegant pop, and eloquent hybrids of world music-imbued neo-orchestral rock pagentries, all expressed via Johnson’s transcendent, sublime six-string artistry enfolding majestic melody lines and chord structures around crafted songwriting and vocals.
Live and Beyond documents Johnson’s expansive purist musical roots, serving up an expressive, earthy, multi-textured template for his furious, emotive guitar illuminations and authoritative vocals. Recorded during a three-night stint at Antones nightclub (except for the sole studio track, the blues-inflected “World of Trouble”) the album proves Johnson’s stunning command as a blues player and vocalist, hallmarked by intensity and virtuosity.
Johnson is renowned for his time-consuming perfectionism recording his music, preferring the controlled production environment of his own custom built studio. But on this, his first live release, the studio auteur takes chances. He strips away the studio polish to reveal an inspiring return to fundamental music basics, effervescent spontaneity, soulful interpretive phrasing, incendiary stretched out improvisations, and the celebration of being in the moment, performing live among a captive audience. The dazzling results shine through.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s January ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.