It’s hard to pinpoint why time has not built the reputation of Houston’s Johnny “Guitar” Watson . It’s not that Watson wasn’t influential—artists from Jimi Hendrix to Etta James gave him his due—and it wasn’t for a lack of hits. His seventies funk period, now collected in The Funk Anthology (Shout Factory), kept him camped at the top of the charts. A biting blues guitarist and a prodigious multi-instrumentalist, arranger, and composer, Watson was a mercurial artist who constantly swapped styles and labels. Unapologetically modern—nowhere more so than on these sides originally recorded for the DJM label—he shunned the factories of Stax, Motown, and P-Funk and found his own irreverent hard groove, one that played like a crossbreed of James Brown and T-Bone Walker. If you’d forgotten all about Watson, here’s a real mother for ya. J.M.