Born David William Kearney in 1939, Texan Guitar Shorty first recorded in 1957, yet this is only the 6th album for Jimi Hendrix's former brother-in-law (well, he married Hendrix's stepsister).
Kearney's career has had its shares of highs and lows (and sometimes the lows were very low, too), but since he was picked up by JSP in 1990 he has delivered a handful of albums which rank from good to great, and this is one of the best ones.
"Watch Your Back" is a really tough record...Shorty's fiery, fat-toned guitar playing is not unlike Stevie Ray Vaughan's, and he delivers these ten songs with utter conviction. There is nothing here as instantly memorable as the best work of Muddy Waters or Howlin' Wolf, sure, but that's pretty much a given, I suppose, and there are a lot of really good songs here even without an obvious replacement for "Hoochie Coochie Man".
Opening with one of the best ones, the gruff, muscular "Old School", "Watch Your Back" is excellently produced by Shorty's pianist Jesse Harms (formerly of REO Speedwagon). No frills, no gloss and glitter, just forty minutes of rowdy, smouldering blues, and Shorty rips into each blazing song, slow grind or up-tempo boogie, with equal enthusiasm.
Highlights include "I'm Gonna Leave You", an intense slow blues, the gritty swagger of "It Ain't The Fall That Kills You", the funky "What She Don't Know", a tough-as-nails rendition of "A Little Less Conversation", the driving "Let's Get Busy", and "Let My Guitar Do The Talking", a powerful mid-tempo number with a charging Bo Diddley beat.
Fans of so-called "modern electric blues" will want a listen, and those new to David William Kearney can start here.