Tag Archives: Johnny “Guitar” Watson

Here’s hoping Santa is cool with this

Now that Christmas has come and gone, I can come clean.

Six days before Christmas, my son and I took a quick overnight trip to Minneapolis. For Evan, it was an opportunity to do some research at one of the University of Minnesota libraries.

For me, of course, it was a chance to go record digging. For the record, so to speak, I went record digging while fully mindful that it was a time to be looking for a few last things for other people, not for myself.

After dropping off Evan at the library, I made a bee line for Mill City Sound in suburban Hopkins. My friend Todd tipped me to it a couple of years ago. It’s one of the best record stores around. Highly recommended.

When I walked in, there was a guy looking at the new arrival bins. He was taking his time, which is fine, so I headed for the soul and R&B bins. Along the way, I glanced at the collectible records on the wall. Always interesting to see what they have up there.

So I dove in, flipping through the letter A soul and R&B records. Nothing for me. I took a couple of steps to my right, and started flipping through the letter B soul and R&B records. About a dozen records in, I glanced up at the wall in front of me. What I saw took my breath away.

There, among the collectible records on the wall, right smack in front of me, was the LP that has been No. 1 on my wish list for the last 10 years. I immediately took it off the wall. Never mind that it cost about four times what I’d planned to spend on records on this trip.

Behold.

“Two For The Price Of One” is a soul scorcher by Larry Williams and Johnny Watson, released on Okeh in 1967. The title cut is proof.

My friends Larry and Derek tipped me to Larry Williams and Johnny Watson on their blogs way back in 2009. The closest I’d come to finding that record was coming across a CD re-release while digging at Amoeba Records in Berkeley, California, in the summer of 2010. I’d never seen a vinyl copy in the wild.

I found no other records that day at Mill City Sound, nor at either of the other Minneapolis record stores we visited. Finding that one kinda negated the need to look for anything else.

Now, with Christmas come and gone, I can fess up.

That record has been sitting in a Mill City Sound bag for the last nine days. I didn’t say anything about it to Evan during our trip, nor to Janet when we got home, nor have I put it on the turntable. Until tonight, that is.

Santa’s listening, you know.

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Filed under December 2019, Sounds

Digging distant crates

A couple of weeks ago, we left our steamy, sultry corner of Wisconsin and flew to San Francisco for the better part of a week.

I was promised there would be time for record digging, and there was. But as soon as I started diving into the vinyl at Amoeba Records in Berkeley, a problem popped up.

If there were records to be had, how to get them back to Wisconsin? Putting vinyl LPs in my luggage? Not really an option. Having them shipped home? Perhaps, but still a kind of a hassle.

So in a way, it was a relief to go through Amoeba and not find any LPs I had to have.

But in the soul CD bins, now there was a record I grabbed immediately.

“Two For The Price Of One” by Larry Williams and Johnny “Guitar” Watson is a soul scorcher originally released on Okeh in 1967. It was reissued last year on Righteous Records, a UK label, with 10 extra tracks (two more from the duo, plus eight from Watson alone).

Turns out, it was the only record I bought on our trip. It’s been playing constantly in the car since we got home. It’s the record of the summer, some 43 years after it was released.

I likely have disappointed some of the veteran crate diggers by going all the way to San Francisco and not making a better effort. So it goes. I can live with it. Some days, you have to take quality over quantity.

Listen for yourself.

“Too Late” and “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” Larry Williams and Johnny “Guitar” Watson, from “Two For The Price Of One,” 1967. The buy link is to the aforementioned import reissue.

I was tipped to these guys last year by another dynamic duo — my friends Larry over at Funky 16 Corners and Derek over at Derek’s Daily 45. All I know about them is what I learned from Larry and Derek’s posts, so I defer to them. As Larry mentioned last year …

The former is indeed a “Northern Soul fave,” one in which the fellas defiantly move on from a woman who dumped them.

The latter puts lyrics by Williams and Watson to an instrumental written in 1966 by Joe Zawinul for Cannonball Adderley’s jazz quintet. This was the first vocal version, and it was covered later in 1967 by the Buckinghams, who had a big hit with it.

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Filed under August 2010, Sounds