Review: Chris Watson Band – Pleasure And Pain

Posted on: Saturday, Jul 7, 2012

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Chris Watson Band – Pleasure And Pain

(Gator Groove Records: BDR1201)

From the endless line of Texan guitar players, here’s a young man worthy of attention – hailing from Denton, near Dallas . . . Chris Watson delivers a set of top blues, but with enough variation to keep things fresh and interesting on the 12 songs – nine originals and three covers – contained within “Pleasure And Pain, in the company of a fine band of musicians.

Watson honed his ‘chops’ in his father’s band, and formed the Chris Watson Band in 2006, gigging locally in the Dallas/Forth Worth area, and released “Just For Show” in 2010. Aside from Watson on guitar and vocals, the rest of the musicians are: Billy Acord and Chris Gipson (bass), Jon Zoog and Jason Thomas (drums), Scott Morris and Eric Scortia (keyboards), Justin Barbee (trumpet) and Jeff Dazey (saxophone), and last, but not least, Kristin Major (back-up vocals).

The album opener shows the variety on offer . . . a funky groove inhabits “Heart On My Sleeve”, with some punchy guitar and fine vocal from Watson; the pace is taken up on the Texas shuffle of “Untrue”, where he gives the proverbial ‘goodbye’ to a cheating lover, complete with blistering guitar solo. The title cut, “Pleasure And Pain”, is again in funky territory, and recalls the great Robert Cray’s “Phone Booth” . . . and that’s no bad thing!

The soulful ballad “Heartache” is a joy, with deep gospelly vocal, and the punchy horns of Justin Barbee and Jeff Dazey, and the sweet backup vocals of  Kristin Major . . . very nice indeed! The late, great Sean Costello recorded the beautiful traditional tune “Going Home”, and here Watson and band do it great justice; and cover Costello’s own “Hard Luck Woman” – a tough, strutting blues with more great guitar.

“She’s Wild”, tells of another potentially dangerous lady . . . with a laid-back swampy groove, and containing nice keyboard fills. The last cover here is a sweet take of soul giant Bobby Womack’s “Check It Out”, complete with another fine vocal and more delicate funky guitar. Watson ‘doffs the cap’ to Jimi Hendrix on the rolling “Wanted Man”, and ends this fine album with the upbeat Memphis-flavoured stomper, “Don’t Turn Around”.

A very accomplished album and definitely a young man to keep an eye out for, whose music is built on great playing and songs, rather than any excessive soloing or showing off.

GRAHAME RHODES

www.chriswatsonband.com

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