Eric Johnson and Eric Johnson & Mike Stern

Heaping helping of high-profile local LPs

Texas Platters

Eric Johnson

Europe Live (Mascot)

Eric Johnson and Mike Stern

Eclectic (Heads Up)
Texas Platters

Guitar star Eric Johnson traverses three decades' worth of catalog on concert retrospective Europe Live. Joined by stalwart accompanists Chris Maresh and Wayne Salzmann II, the Austin native hits all the obvious signposts ("Zap," "Cliffs of Dover") and classics in training ("Zenland," "Austin"). Elsewhere, he resurrects the 30-year-old acoustic piece "Song for Life," successfully pulls off John Coltrane's "Mr. P.C." until Maresh and Salzmann highjack it, and once again demonstrates that he has no feel for blues (Alien Love Child's "Last House on the Block"). Newer tunes "Fatdaddy" and "Evinrude Fever" serve as excuses for Johnson's finger play, but Ah Via Musicom gem "Forty Mile Town" remains a perfect example of using technical virtuosity to create memorable melodies instead of wanking frameworks. Europe Live could use more moments like it, but it will thrill die-hards. Eclectic puts Johnson with jazz axe Mike Stern and lives up to its title. Frankly, some tunes are pretty dire. The world doesn't need another cover of Hendrix's "Red House," while Pat Metheny Group tribute "Wishing Well" (with vocals from Christopher Cross) would make Cookie Monster's stomach hurt. "Roll With It," co-starring Malford Milligan, should come in a white package stamped with a bar code and "blues rock." When jazz takes the lead for "Benny Man's Blues," "Tidal," and "Remember," putting Stern in his comfort zone and pushing Johnson out of his, Eclectic sets up the right framework to show both men at their improvisational best. Plus, Johnson reconnects with his Electromagnets roots on a rocking remake of "Dry Ice," and the pair gets spacey on "Big Foot." It's not enough to overcome cheese like "Sometimes" and "Hullabaloo," but they're proof a strong album struggles to come out.

Europe Live **.5

Eclectic **

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Eric Johnson
Texas Platters
Eric Johnson
EJ (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Oct. 21, 2016

Texas Platters
Eric Johnson
Up Close (Record Review)

Austin Powell, Dec. 24, 2010

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Mitch Chandler
Seasons (Record Review)

Michael Toland, April 6, 2018

Texas Platters
Jon Lundbom Quartet
Live at Monks (Record Review)

Michael Toland, April 6, 2018

More by Michael Toland
Texas Platters
Aaron Russell
Red Guitar (Record Review)

April 6, 2018

SXSW Music Review: The Veldt
Live Shot: The Veldt
Afro-shoegaze pioneers re-emerge for their close-up

March 17, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Eric Johnson, Eric Johnson & Mike Stern

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2018

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle