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ROBERT JOHNSON Close Personal Friend Angel Air SJPCD285 (2008)

Robert Johnson

Not the legendary bluesman, this Robert Johnson was more a legendary rock'n'roll guitarist and session man in the 70s, not quite getting the Rolling Stones part in 1975, and successfully recording and touring with John ‘Ox' Entwistle's solo band. Johnson also worked with the likes of Isaac Hayes.

This, his first solo album, he didn't get round to until 1978, with some tracks recorded a year or two earlier. If you don't know the music, think uptempo Dave Edmunds and Chris Spedding, with a touch of Ducks Deluxe. A fine mix of pub rock and rock'n'roll given that fiery punk energy; half of the sound is 5 years too late, the other half is what influenced much new wave rock'n'pop of the late 70s and early 80s.

Early tracks like opener 'I'll Be Waiting' typify the sound, with the guitar mixing rhythms with some outstanding solos.

A good and full sound for a three piece.

In amongst the rock'n'roll, 'Guide My Energy' is more commercial with more melody than solos.

The album is bolstered by the 1980 set 'Memphis Demos', compiling tracks recorded around the time of ‘Close Personal Friend', some much earlier, yet the direction and feel is along the same lines.

Johnson did too many sessions to think about but this is pretty much all his solo work collated, and well packaged and annotated too. Definitely worth a listen.


Review by Joe Geesin

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© 2008 Angel Air Records. All rights reserved.

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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