Johnny is one of my heroes. On June 13, 1998 I heard him for the first time live on the radio, during VPRO’s Studio Amstel Festival. The other guests were then still unknown The Handsome Family and Bonnie Prince Billy. Luckily I had a (used) tape plugged into my tape recorder! ‘Wrong Side Of Memphis’ Johnny’s sensational first solo album, also saw the light as homemade demo tape.
Born in Fort Worth (Texas) and still working at Zolar moving in Ithaca (New York), Johnny knows his life always tell in a colorful way. After an appearance in the movie “Searching For The Wrong-Eyed Jesus” (2003) and numerous albums, he wanted for his latest return to the do-it-yourself style recording of his first CD.
The fourteen tracks he has chosen from the double, in two years fixed number. First the music incorporating his “seven-track recorder (one track is broken), as always drawing from different styles. Then inspiration his notebook full of poems and texts with it catchy. He uses the same twenty-five years Electro-Harmonix DRM16, but he wanted to hear a different kind of sound, so mix and mastering were contracted this time on Matt Saccuccimorano. Normally I hate canned drums, but it just belongs to Johnny!
The inventive title comes from Johnny Guitar Watson’s “Gangster Of Love” (1957). He made a poem and that opens, dipped in distorted guitar sounds, the album. Johnny found it nicely match the cover photo of his grandfather, who was sheriff in Oklahoma. This CD Anna Coogan plays the role of singing angel who gives counterbalance Johnny’s nomination opinionated, sometimes deliberately off-key singing and black humor. She effortlessly Johnny’s words echoing in her roles of country diva to “banshee”. Of course it refers to one track (“White Dolemite”) to himself – and to Archie Bell. The “Cadillac Hearse” brings us fantastic guitar riffs to New Orleans and “Why?” With soul influences, a new Dowd classic. The album ends with a long piece in which Willie B (drums) and Mike Edmondson (keyboards) play, Johnny’s acceptance speech is precious!
If you sometimes think that life is not fair, “Fair is where you go if you want to see the pigs race / Fare is what you pay the bus driver to get you to another place”. Excellent album, or as Master of the Absurd ‘Johnny himself would spell the “Xcellent”. (Mother Jinx Records)
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