I say it three or four times a year. Every so often, a CD arrives from an artist I’ve never heard of, and it blows me away. Here’s one of those. This is easily one of my favorite records of the year.
Johnny’s a Boston guy who’s spent some time on the road with Peter Wolf. This all-instrumental CD covers the gamut, from R&B to country to rock, and everything in between.
The highlight is a beautiful cover of one of my all-time favorite melodies, Jimmy Webb’s “Witchita Lineman.” Killer chordal work, subtle melodies, and yes, even a quote from Glen Campbell’s Marlboro-man sound are mixed up to make this four of the lovliest minutes you’ll hear this year. In fact, all the covers on the CD work really well, including a very nice-sounding “Yes It Is” (the Beatles song), and a funky, jazzy version of “You Don’t Love Me” that features some nasty wah work, and chordal and octave work that show us what this blues chestnut might have sounded like if Wes Montgomery had covered it.
Johnny’s originals are great, too. The title cut sounds like the theme from some long-lost spy movie. “Oh Yeah” is a roof raiser that lets him show off his chops. “Up In the Attic” showcases his country side with some fun chickin’ pickin’ and killer banjo-style roles. The wonderfully-titled “Tex Critter” is a rockabilly workout, and “Lullabye for Nicole” is a very pretty ballad.
You get the idea. This is a marvelous CD. It’s available on the web at www.cdbaby.com, phone 800-448-6369, or on Johnny’s website, www.johnnya .com. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s March ’00 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.