CD/DVD Review – Eric Johnson – Live from Austin Texas, 84
New West Records – 8 out of 10
This newly released archive recording finds the influential and acclaimed singer song-writer and ground-breaking electric guitarist Eric Johnson plying his trade in front of a lively audience. The music was recorded in 1984, a year before his first album, Tones was launched, and it would be many years before a lot of the material recorded here found its way onto official releases. ‘Soulful Terrain’ and ‘Friends’ were from that first album, whilst the acoustic piece ‘Tribute to Jerry Reed’ would have to wait twenty years, and an electric re-invention before finding its way onto 2005’s ‘Bloom’. With support from drummer Steve Meader and bass player Rob Alexander, they plough many musical furrows, from the straight pop of ‘All I Need’ to the searing physchedelia of Hendrix’s ‘Spanish Castle Magic’, via the superior rock of ‘Bristol Shores’ and an early version of Johnson’s signature piece ‘Cliffs of Dover’, to the Wes Montgomery style jazz of ‘Down here on the Ground’. Three acoustic pieces form an attractive centrepiece to the release, with a solo acoustic reading of Simon and Garfunkels’ ‘April Come she will’ being a particularly strong feature. The DVD that accompanies the album is a straightforward concert recording, but recent technology has pushed the quality to a much higher one. This is a fine addition to Johnson’s output, with much of the music surviving the 26 year gap between first recording and release, but Johnson’s releases are like buses. You wait years for one, and then two come along at the same time, with his new album Up-Close seeing release at the end of December.