Damon Johnson. Name sound familiar? It should. Johnson was the long-time head man, lead guitarist, and lead vocalist for Brother Cane, the Alabama rock band that was dropped from Virgin Records after releasing their best recording ever in 1998 with Wishpool. Wishpool didn’t gain overwhelming success, but honestly, it was the best rock album released in 1998, and I personally lay the blame of its lack of popularity squarely on the shoulders of Virgin Records. The CD was a solid, hard hitting piece of rock and roll magic, and there was no reason in God’s great, green earth it shouldn’t have been in the top ten CDs of the year in 1998. But alas, what do suits know, eh?
So in the year 2000, we find Johnson hooking up on guitar with Damn Yankees and releasing his own solo acoustic CD on Huntsville, Alabama’s Moon Town Records. Some of the tracks on the solo, Dust, are tried and true Brother Cane hits played by Johnson alone, with no backing from BC bassist Roman Glick, drummer Scott Collier, or second guitarist David Anderson. Johnson still stands out simply with the acoustic and his own soulful, emotion-filled vocals. There are studio acoustic tracks, such as the opening tune, a new song for Johnson, entitled “To Turn Back Now,” followed by Johnson’s ballad written for his mother, “Voice Of Eujena,” but the major portion of these acoustic songs were recorded live at such local Alabama rock and roll haunts as Zydeco in Birmingham and Crossroads Cafe in Huntsville. Paying tribute to his long time rock and roll idols, Thin Lizzy, Johnson performs a heartfelt rendition of his personal favorite tune, “Borderline,” and earlier on the CD, presents an old Jimmy Rodgers tune in “Workin’ Man Blues,” adding that it was one of his dad’s favorite songs when he was a child. Also included on Dust are my two favorites written by Johnson, “Woman” and “The Truth.” The real clincher on this live acoustic CD though, is a new one, “Does She Think of Me.” Out of all the bands and songs I have heard, it’s been almost two years since a new song has immediately brought tears to my eyes, but this little sweetheart of a tune managed to do it. It was good to hear original bassist Glen Maxey joining Johnson on the final cut on this CD, “Make Your Play.”
A definite “must have” for all former fans of Brother Cane and a true “serious consideration” for fans wanting some sweet acoustic music from one of the most skilled guitarists coming out of the South. Can I get a “Hell, yeah?!”
Moon Town Disc, 4805 Commercial Dr., Huntsville, AL 35816; http://www.moontown.com/