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Eric Johnson 11/1/2005

Review

Eric Johnson was two years away from releasing Ah Via Musicom, the album that would finally expand his following beyond a rabid cult of guitar fanatics, when he appeared on the acclaimed PBS music series Austin City Limits and casually played an hour of music that had viewers across the country asking, "How does he do that?" (It wasn't the first time -- a 1984 spot on the show helped Johnson land his first major-label deal.) Live from Austin, TX gives Johnson's December 14, 1988, gig on the show an authorized release on CD, and what's most striking about the disc is how the layers of amazing guitar tone and remarkably fluid licks that you figured had to have been created through endless hours of studio trickery on his albums are actually being summoned forth by Johnson in real time, with a camera crew and studio audience watching. Zipping back and forth between jazz, blues, rock, progressive, and even country styles, nothing seems to be outside Johnson's grasp on this performance, and his rhythm section (Kyle Brock on bass and Tommy Taylor on drums) offers subtle but essential support throughout. While on a few numbers Johnson descends into Steve Morse-style guitar theatrics that are of limited interest to those who can't actually play, for the most part this is a fine performance from a picker who knows how to use his chops in the service of the music, and anyone who enjoys his work will want to check this out. ~ Mark Deming
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Righteous Eric Johnson 3:28
  3. 2 Love or Confusion Eric Johnson 3:6
  4. 3 Steve's Boogie Eric Johnson 1:55
  5. 4 Trail of Tears Eric Johnson 9:22
  6. 5 Western Flyer Eric Johnson 3:44
  7. 6 East Wes Eric Johnson 4:7
  8. 7 C.W. Eric Johnson 0:56
  9. 8 Camel's Night Out Eric Johnson 4:16
  10. 9 Emerald Eyes Eric Johnson 4:17
  11. 10 Cliffs of Dover Eric Johnson 6:14
  12. 11 Desert Rose Eric Johnson 4:58
  13. 12 Zap Eric Johnson 5:38
  14. 13 Are You Experienced? Eric Johnson 6:42

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