Home Read Classic Album Review: Johnny A. | Get Inside

Classic Album Review: Johnny A. | Get Inside

The former Peter Wolf sideman bridges the cool/hot guitar-hero gap on this album.

This came out in 2004 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Guitar heroes typically come in one of two varieties: Hot or cool.

The hot ones are usually those techno-whiz kids with flying fingers who cram six trillion notes into every bar (think Steve Vai). The cool ones tend to be older cats who play fewer notes with a lot more soul (think B.B. King). Somewhere between those extremes, you’ll find Boston axeman and ex-Peter Wolf sideman Johnny A. And on his sophomore CD Get Inside, you’ll find a dozen jazzy instrumentals that bridge the guitar-hero gap. On the hand, it’s clear Johnny is a master player — his picking is clean and precise, his attack is crisp and pointed, and he has superb control over tone, sustain and vibrato. If I had to name names, I’d call him a cross between Jeff Beck, Chet Atkins and Water Becker. But instead of showing off his skills, he puts uses them in service of his songs, eschewing pyrotechnic wankery for understated, burbling solos and brisk percussive chording. And he isn’t afraid to put his own stamp on Jimi Hendrix’s The Wind Cries Mary, which he revamps with a percolating funk-jazz vibe. Who knows if he’ll become a true guitar hero. But right now, Johnny A. is a musician who resists easy categorization, and that’s always cool.