LARRY WILLIAMS and JOHNNY WATSON: Two For The Price Of One (Label: Righteous)

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By 1967 when Larry Williams and Johnny “Guitar” Watson ended up recording together for the legendary Okeh label they were both music biz veterans. Williams had been a full-blown rock n roll star – with his iconic ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzie’ and ‘Slowdown’ becoming staples of the Beatles’ stage act; Watson had enjoyed status as a blues prodigy … his ‘Gangster Of Love’ already something of a rock standard. So, when they came to collaborate on the ‘Two For The Price Of One’ album the result was an explosion of energy and rhythmic fireworks. Sadly for the duo those pyrotechnics had more impact in the UK where tracks like ‘A Quitter Never Wins’, ‘Too Late’ and the LP’s title cut became Northern soul classics. The album and any CD reissues have long been out of print; now with this Cherry Red/ Righteous release we can all skate, glide and backspin to those breathtaking memories. They still sound good AND they prove that on the best (and truly authentic) Northern soul, there was plenty of real soul -despite what some critics say. And if you still want to deny that Williams and Watson lacked that truly unidentifiable quality then skip to their version of ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’ or the album’s only genuine slowie – ‘Ask Me’. The LP’s original 10 tracks form the core of this reissue but as bonuses you get a further ten cuts. First there’s the A and B sides of a single the duo recorded with embryonic psychedelic group Kaleidoscope (‘Nobody’ and ‘Find Yourself Someone To Love’); then there are six cuts from a Johnny Watson instrumental album – check his swinging soul-jazz take on ‘Comin’ Home Baby’; finally you get a pair of tunes from another Watson album – ‘The Johnny “Guitar” Watson Trio Plays Fats Waller’ and on both ‘Makin’ Whoopee’ and ‘Ain’t Misbehavin” he revisits his blues roots. All good archive material, but the life-blood of this reissue is that incendiary ‘Two For The Price Of One’ album.
(BB) 4/5