Monday, May 15, 2006

Eric Johnson Live From Austin Tx.

God surely blessed Austin Texas. From such roots as The Armadillo World Headquarters, Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and lest we forget, guitar genius Eric Johnson. This CD is long overdue, recorded in 1988 on the show Austin City Limits, this is the quintessential Eric Johnson, to be sure. This as close a look as you will get that compares to what Prince saw on this same program in 1984 when he recommended Eric to Warner Bros. Records, whose subsidiary, Reprise Records, signed Eric into the big time. Johnson's career has spanned three decades and crossed paths with countless artists along the way.

This particular CD heralds from a very key time in Johnson's journey. The live performance is absolutely flawless, and the energy is strictly Eric. His brand of music stylized and influenced by the "3J's:" Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Reed, and Jeff Beck, is also traced with Stevie Ray nuances, and a bold Jazz infusion at times. The track Righteous gets things off to a high energy start in an instrumental with very classic Johnson sounds, with just a touch of SRV. The album is fairly well balanced with instrumentals and vocals as well. The Jeff Beck influence is one of my favorite traits of Johnson's music. Love Or Confusion, the CD's 2nd track shows a portrait view of his Austin, Texas roots. One of my favorites is a little ditty called Steve's Boogie, less than two minutes of just darn good guitar pickin'.

With thirteen tracks in all, this CD displays a complete spectrum of Eric's varied styles. Cliffs Of Dover, probably one of the most famous of his early works, actually won a Grammy according to this excerpt from his Bio,
"Johnson's breakthrough into the mainstream occurred with 1990's Capitol release 'Ah Via Musicom.' The buoyant, cascading instrumental "Cliffs of Dover" enjoyed mountains of radio airplay across multiple formats. The platinum-selling album was nominated for a Grammy and "Cliffs of Dover" itself earned Johnson a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental, topping fellow nominees the Allman Brothers Band, Danny Gatton, Rush and Yes."

The CD also includes another Grammy nominee, Zap, another signature instrumental showcasing Eric's un-believable talents with 10 fingers. The final track is in homage to one of his greatest influences Jimi Hendrix. The song Are You Experienced is an amazing rendition by Eric in tribute to the master, yet still breathes with Eric's own stylistic and creative influence. A memorable topper to an un-forgettable CD, I can still remember sitting in Dallas, and watching this amazing PBS showing, I do believe that God blessed Austin, Texas.

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