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If I Had a Genie

Junior Watson

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Album Review

Too bad guitarist Junior Watson isn't as prolific as he is talented. This is only his second solo album and it comes eight years after his first. Regardless, it's nearly an hour's worth of crackling jump blues, played and sung by a guy with chops to spare and a light enough vocal touch to make these 11 covers and three originals connect like the finest music from the '40s and '50s jazz/blues hipsters that have obviously influenced his style. Watson's own contemporaries, such as Rick Holmstrom, Jimmie Vaughan, and Kim Wilson, sing his praises for a good reason; his taste and tone recall the heavyweights of the jump genre without slavishly copying them. The guitarist chose to record this session entirely live in the studio. That's with no overdubs, even for the vocals. The environment allows him to connect to the material with a crisp immediacy, especially on an instrumental take of Pee Wee Crayton's "Blues After Hours." Saxist Baron Shul honks on his baritone and tenor horns like a man born half a century too late, and contributions from boogie-woogie piano master Gene Taylor on all but four tracks bring additional authenticity to the session. The set is peppered with obscure tunes from even more obscure artists such as Felix & His Hot Peppers, Woo Woo Moore, and Peppermint Harris, But Watson breathes new life into these dusty gems with a raw, rollicking approach that never feels studied or cramped. It makes for a rousing, upbeat, and swinging album that could just have well been recorded half a century earlier and is as close to a live date as you may ever get for this increasingly reclusive talent.

Biography

Born: California

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Despite playing the role of perennial sideman, often in fine bands that left much to be desired in the visibility department, Mike "Junior" Watson was, and is, one of the most influential blues guitarists of his generation. In fact, following Robben Ford's defection into fusion, Watson was rivaled only by Hollywood Fats as king of the hill in California, and by Jimmie Vaughan anywhere else. While he and Vaughan have radically different approaches, Watson's arch-top-cheapo-through-reverb-tank sound...
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If I Had a Genie, Junior Watson
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