9 Songs, 44 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

While many monumental funk performers of the '70s were either silly or intimidating, Johnny “Guitar” Watson stood alone in his ability to be both. The cover of his 1977 LP Funk Beyond the Call of Duty shows him hamming it up for the camera with an attractive model, bathed in the late-afternoon light of Los Angeles, his adopted hometown. A veteran of the '50s R&B industry, Watson grasped the importance of showmanship—but his unpolished aesthetic and tar-sticky voice made him seem overtly streetwise at a time when most R&B stars were excessively groomed. Though the songs here can feel simplistic, they're actually multidimensional, with layers of funk, blues, disco, and jazz all mutated by Watson’s eccentric touch. The album didn’t contain a breakout single, but “Funk Beyond the Call of Duty,” “It’s About the Dollar Bill,” and the superlative bonus track “Can You Handle It” exemplify Watson’s unique faculties. Though he never became a household name, his work as an effortlessly virtuosic R&B bandleader would lay the blueprint for Prince in the years to come.

EDITORS’ NOTES

While many monumental funk performers of the '70s were either silly or intimidating, Johnny “Guitar” Watson stood alone in his ability to be both. The cover of his 1977 LP Funk Beyond the Call of Duty shows him hamming it up for the camera with an attractive model, bathed in the late-afternoon light of Los Angeles, his adopted hometown. A veteran of the '50s R&B industry, Watson grasped the importance of showmanship—but his unpolished aesthetic and tar-sticky voice made him seem overtly streetwise at a time when most R&B stars were excessively groomed. Though the songs here can feel simplistic, they're actually multidimensional, with layers of funk, blues, disco, and jazz all mutated by Watson’s eccentric touch. The album didn’t contain a breakout single, but “Funk Beyond the Call of Duty,” “It’s About the Dollar Bill,” and the superlative bonus track “Can You Handle It” exemplify Watson’s unique faculties. Though he never became a household name, his work as an effortlessly virtuosic R&B bandleader would lay the blueprint for Prince in the years to come.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5
4 Ratings

4 Ratings

HippeVan ,

Virginia's Pretty Funky!

I downloaded Virginia on yesterday, as well as some of the other tunes. BUT, I have been listening to this funk non stop! VIRGINIA IS FUNKY! Johnny, you are the man! The funky man! RIP

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