Vinyl Dynamite #18: Funk Beyond the Call of Duty

Everyone's familiar with Steve Miller's famous line, "Some people call me the Space Cowboy. Some call me the Gangster of Love", but how many are familiar with who Miller is referring to? Johnny Guitar Watson was released his album Gangster of Love back in the 1950's and was extremely influential to a number of artists including Miller and Sly Stone. Notably, Frank Zappa stated that "Watson's 1956 song 'Three Hours Past Midnight' inspired me to become a guitarist".

In the 1970's, Johnny Guitar ditched the blues and went straight up funk and soul, subsequently, becoming an influence to another generation of artists including Snoop Dogg, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Mary J. Blige. His gold teeth, broad-brimmed hats, fly suits, designer sunglasses, and ostentatious jewellery made him one of the most colorful figures in the West Coast funk circle (quote source). In fact, it is believed that Watson became an ACTUAL PIMP!! (source: Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke (2005)).

Here's another little known fact: The famous "Bow Wow Wow yippi-yo yippi-yay" popularized by Parliament Funkadelic then later Snoop Doggy Dogg was actually the catchphrase of Johnny Guitar Watson!

Watson claims to have invented rap music with his 1980 song "Telephone Bill". The verdict is still out on this one, as well as his claim that Jimi Hendrix was merely his copycat, saying: "Those things Jimi Hendrix was doing, I started that shit." Regardless of whether these claims are true, Johnny Guitar Watson was a legend whose influence was profound in the world of music.

I'm proud, therefore, to offer his 1977 album as the Retrospace Vinyl Dynamite selection in its entirety. This album is about as funky as it gets (his earlier LP, Ain't that a Bitch (1976), wasn't too shabby either). I love every groove on this record, and if you're a fan of 70's funk and soul, I'm sure you'll feel the same way. I apologize for the incessant crackling - the  record is pretty scratched. Call me overly sentimental toward records, but I personally like to hear the crackle of the needle on vinyl.

Download the entire album via Rapidshare here

Side 1
01. Funk Beyond The Call Of Duty
02. It's About The Dollar Bill
03. Give Me My Love

Side 2
04. It's A Damn Shame
05. I'm Gonna Get You Baby
06. Barn Door
07. Love That Will Not Die

Or just sample a track:
"It's About the Dollar Bill"


  1. Fantastic! Looking forward to listening to this!

  2. Johnny Guitar Watson rules. Great post. Check out the JGW Funk Anthology that Shout! Factory put out in 2005. It's loaded with great artwork and killer photos..

  3. Pearl Jam's latest album, Backspacer, has a song about Johnny Guitar Watson.

  4. I never had this album, but "A Real Mother For Ya" was a good one, too- on the cover, his "mom" is pushing him in a gold Cadillac baby carriage!
    He played with Frank Zappa for a tour or two, and sang his song "In France," which is still one of my favorites.