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JOHNNY GUITAR WATSON JANUARY 1979 INTERVIEW
GUITAR GIANT
AFTER the comparitive failure of "Funk Beyond The Call Of Duty", Johnny Guitar Watson is back with a vengeance. His "Giant" album looks likely to emulate all three prior DJM albums — yes, even "A Real Mother For Ya". To the outside world, "Funk Beyond" was a surprising failure but Johnny is candid and honest about it.

"We still sold 420,000 albums," he can afford to smile. "But the company was going through problems with distribution and I understood their situation. If it hadn't sold, then maybe I would have been more worried but I honestly don't fell that the music was at fault.

"We played several concerts behind the album and found that wherever we went, the people liked the album. And, if anything, we got more requests for tunes of that album than any album before it."

Nevertheless, the "Giant" set does mark something of a change of direction for the easily recognisable stylist. "You remember the last time we spoke and I told you about the album I was making specifically for the European market," Johnny relates. "Well, this is it and it was only after I had finished it that the company felt it was too strong not to be released in America and worldwide.

' 'A couple of the tunes were actually written over there in England. In fact, we had originally planned to record over there, remember? But the new studio that DJM has in London wasn't quite ready and I knew that this album had to be my best and so I didn't feel right to experiment."

The album is made up totally of JGW originals — save for one song and that is the "Baby Face" song from War's "Galaxy" album. And, in the States, this cut is getting more disco support than any other individual track on the album.

"I always felt that to be the strongest track on War's album and I noticed while I was in London that so many Reggae flavored records were crossing over. So, when we got back to L.A. and started the album, I decided to include it — and I am pleased I did because of the way people seem to like my version.

"And the reason I included 'Gangster Of Love' again is again because I found that in Europe they were really into that old Blues thing. And now the company has released it as a single here — but that wasn't my choice, it was theirs.

I felt strongest about "Miss Frisco" which was released here in the U.K. but unfortunately never really got off, although it has done pretty well in the disco market. The next single released in the new year, will be "Gangster Of Love" — so maybe that will do better!"

With Johnny's "Giant" in the bag, he is now finishing off work on the second Watsonian Institute album. "I have considered other projects but this is the only thing I am actually working on. They are still hoping to get an early release on the album and that's what I am working on."

And after three years of consistently moving and being on the road, Johnny actually took a well-earned rest this last summer.

"I had always wanted to go on a boat cruise and so I just got the family together and went!" he smiles. "We took what is called the Midnight Sun Cruise and went up to Alaska. It was really beautiful, really lovely. I had never seen things like glaciers before and we just had the most enjoyable week you could ever imagine. And the scenery is magnificent.

"I was surprised because it really wasn't all that cold; you needed a coat in the evenings but that was all. And all the guys on the boat working were from the Caribbean and they all knew my music and that made me feel good, too. It was just a most beautiful week."

Johnny's immediate plans call for some promotional work around America in support of "Giant" and then he goes back to Europe to do the rounds therre — Britain, Germany, Holland and France. And in January, he starts full scale work again with a cross-America tour.


  
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