My goodness, Amos Milburn, Ruth Brown, Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, Lavelle
White, Joe Hinton, Larry Davis, Buddy Ace… every blueslover has these names on
the shelves and as many times they got this Texas Johnny Brown on top of it. In
these artists best periods he was the man that filled the gaps with his
exquisite guitar playing. And do you still melt when you hear Bobby Blands Two
Steps From The Blues, then say "thank you" to Johnny, the writer of the song.
Nevertheless, nowadays that same Texas Johnny Brown is not a household name for
most of the blueslovers. Strange, 'cause his comeback record Nothin' But The
Truth was nominated for a Handy award in '98 and the quality of that record is
easily equaled by the new Blues Defender. Besides Lil Green's In The Dark
Johnny brings us 11 original songs in which he shines as one of the great
masters of the Texas school. And the more I listen to his guitar, the more I'm
convinced that someone like a young Jimmie Vaughan was seated at one of that
school's desks. Texas Johnny doesn't need a pile of notes, no, a lovely caress
follows a precise pick, a well-aimed slap gets accentuated by a venomous pinch
and there's always the principle "less is more". There's one thing that Johnny
couldn't escape from, that good old r&b sound in which the guitar is propelled
by organ or piano and gets a slap on the back by the horns. The result is an
overall very entertaining cd and I just pick a few songs for the fun of it: the
swinging opening track Handy Man; the soulful Did You Lose Your Way; the
stomping Bad Hair Day; the title track that's situated at the French Quarter;
the slow blues Moanin' And Groanin'; Just Can't Do It in a slightly faster The
Thrill Is Gone mode, and the infectiously grooving Love So Strong. Do yourself
a favor and take a listen to this one legendary great instead of to that more
than a dozen too much made of small ones.
Texas Johnny Brown
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Photo of Texas Johnny Brown and photo of guitar on this page: Copyright © 2001 "The Blues Hound" James Nagel.
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