UK guitarist Will Johns rips it up on Bluesdaddy

We’ve talked quite a bit here over the years about some of the second generation blues men and women helping to carry on the tradition of their fathers, including the likes of Bernard Allison (son of Luther), Shemekia Copeland (daughter of Johnny), Lurrie Bell (son of Carey), Kenny Neal (son of Raful), Big Bill and Mud Morganfield (sons of McKinley, a.k.a. Muddy Waters), and others.

Thus far, this same trend doesn’t seem to also be happening on the other side of the pond, at least not strictly in regards to the blues, but perhaps one of the closest examples of it you’ll find there — albeit through a bit less of a direct lineage — is UK blues singer and guitarist Will Johns. While Johns’ father Andy wasn’t a famous musician himself, he did work with many of them throughout his successful career as a record engineer and producer, including the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Blind Faith, Van Halen, and Eric Clapton, who — through his previous marriage to Will’s mother’s sister Pattie Boyd — also happens to be one of several famous uncles to Will, along with George Harrison (through his even earlier marriage to Pattie), Mick Fleetwood (through his past marriage to another aunt), and Andy’s older brother Glyn Johns, also a well-known producer and sound engineer to some of the same acts as Andy as well as The Beatles, The Who, and The Eagles, among others.

For not being related to Clapton by blood, Johns does manage to sound a bit like him at times on his latest album Bluesdaddy — not so much in regards to singing as in playing and talent — particularly on such heavier blues classics as “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Rolling & Tumbling”. All but one of the dozen tracks here, in fact, are covers, many of them quite familiar, including “Everyday I Have the Blues”, “Don’t You Want a Man Like Me”, “High Heel Sneakers”, “Oh Well”, “Sweet Little Angel”, “When You Got a Good Friend”, “I Just Wanna Make Love to You”, “Call Me Willy” (“Willie Brown Blues”) and “Walking and Crying”.

The album’s sole original, the catchy, slide-laced title track “Bluesdaddy” is one of several songs that highlight Johns’ crisp vocals — which often remind us a bit of Canadian counterpart Colin James’ — at their smoothest. Those vocals move into more of a growl on songs like “When You Got a Good Friend”, “Rolling & Tumbling” and “High Heel Sneakers”, with the album including plenty of edgy, gritty playing from Johns that could easily be mistaken for Clapton in his more rocking days and accented at times with some rather swinging keyboards, horns and harmonica.

“Sweet Little Angel” may be the best track of the bunch and thus a great place to start if you have just a few minutes to check the album out, but you’re going to want to make sure you come back for more, as there’s certainly a lot to like about this daddy of an album from Johns!

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