Lonnie Johnson: Uncle Ned, Don't Use Your Head


Uncle Ned, Don't Use Your Head


Lonnie Johnson (guitar, vocals)


Lonnie Johnson Vol. 7: 1931-1932 (Document Records)

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Lonnie Johnson (guitar, vocals).

Traditional arranged by Lonnie Johnson


Recorded: New York, December 3, 1931


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

Of Lonnie Johnson's playing on "Uncle Ned," outstanding jazz guitarist Jack Wilkins marveled to me: "This can't be just one guitar! That track just blew my mind. To this day, I play it for my students and they can't believe it—especially when I tell them it was done in 1931!"

Johnson takes this old Negro folk song and turns it into a vehicle for the most dazzling, blazing-fingered, virtuoso guitar work. The bebop or rock guitarists who thought they were the fastest thing on a fretboard should have gone back and listened to this recording. But beyond the speed, Johnson's playing here has his usual exquisite touch and tone, nuance and fine thematic coherence. This version of the lyrics ranges from funky to silly; but they should be heard as simply an impressionistic story background to the guitar work.

Reviewer: Dean Alger

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