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Watch Your Back

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Album Review

"Paid my dues," repeats Guitar Shorty on "Old School," the opening track to his 2004 release, and that's no exaggeration. Although only his sixth album in a career that stretches back to the mid-'50s, Shorty, born David William Kearney, has been electrifying audiences with his guitar pyrotechnics (think Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughan) and on-stage gymnastics (think Nils Lofgren) since before Hendrix was sneaking into clubs to catch his act. But as he says in "Story of My Life," it's been a series of "tough breaks and bad decisions" before he has finally landed a high-profile shot at more visibility on Alligator, the foremost blues indie imprint. He meets the challenge with his most fiery and gutsy album yet, a tough and uncompromising slab of steely playing, no-nonsense singing, and solid songs. He's always been a gruff, fat-toned guitarist, but with no-frills production by pianist Jesse Harms (who also wrote and co-wrote five tunes), Shorty rips into these ten tracks sounding like he's young, hungry, and ready to explode. He machine guns into Elvis' "A Little Less Conversation" and Van Morrison's "I've Been Working" with an energy and intensity that nearly beat the originals, steamrolling through the solos like a major-league slugger swinging for the fences. The charging Bo Diddley beat of "Let My Guitar Do the Talking" places Shorty's style in that perfect combination of blues and rock, making it one of the album's most successful cuts. Between Shorty's sinewy guitar and a batch of blazing songs perfectly tailored to his rowdy approach, there isn't a weak track here. That makes Watch Your Back a welcome return for old fans and a perfect introduction for those new to Shorty's long career.

Customer Reviews

His Guitar Does The Talking!

Shorty is one of best Blues pickers in the business today, and as Blues fan who has listened to many guitar players, believe me, I know! His Texas Blues reach down and grab you by the soul. The two best tracks on here (although they are all good) are "Let My Guitar Do The Talking" and his excellent cover of "A Little Less Conversation". "A Little Less Conversation" is worth the price of the album!

the real deal

"A little less conversation" and "Let my guitar do the talking" just blew me away. A gutsy old guy who doesn't rely stand on traditional blues conventions to get the job done. hell of a guitarist on top of it. gotta like the cowboy hat and sideburns too.

Watch your back

Stupendous...where did this guy come from? I heard the song "Story of my life" within minutes I bought the album. Move over Hendrix and Stevie Ray there's a new kid in town.


Born: September 8, 1939 in Belhaven, NC

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

When he's not turning somersaults, doing backward flips, and standing on his head -- all while playing, of course -- Guitar Shorty is prone to cutting loose with savagely slashing licks on his instrument. Live, he's simply amazing -- and after some lean years, his latter-day albums for Black Top, Evidence, and Alligator have proven that all that energy translates vividly onto tape. Born David Kearney on September 8, 1939, in Houston, TX, he started playing guitar at an early age. His early influences...
Full Bio
Watch Your Back, Guitar Shorty
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Customer Ratings