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The Best of the Funk Years

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Album Review

Shout Factory's single disc The Best of the Funk Years compiles a solid cross-section of the tracks blues icon Johnny "Guitar" Watson recorded for the DJM label from 1970 to 1981. A hugely influential artist who got his start rockin' out in the '50s with such blues crossover classics as "Too Tired" and "Hot Little Mama," Watson reimagined himself in the '70s as a blues pimp extraordinaire replete with a groovy Afro and three-piece suits. But it wasn't just his look that changed; a multi-instrumentalist/vocalist, Watson also created his own unique brand of funk that mixed together jazz, blues, soul, disco, and R&B. Such tracks included here — "Ain't That a Bitch" and "Funk Beyond the Call of Duty" — even prefigure work by funk iconoclast Prince. Similarly innovative, Watson's 1980 rap track "Telephone Bill" was ahead of its time. While the double-disc Funk Anthology is a more in-depth representation of Watson's '70s work, The Best of the Funk Years is a superb introduction to this part of his career.


Born: 03 February 1935 in Houston, TX

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

"Reinvention" could just as easily have been Johnny "Guitar" Watson's middle name. The multi-talented performer parlayed his stunning guitar skills into a vaunted reputation as one of the hottest blues axemen on the West Coast during the 1950s. But that admirable trait wasn't paying the bills as the 1970s rolled in. So he totally changed his image to that of a pimp-styled funkster, enjoying more popularity than ever before for his down-and-dirty R&B smashes "A Real Mother for Ya" and "Superman Lover."...
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The Best of the Funk Years, Johnny "Guitar" Watson
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