Watsonian Institute

Master Funk

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In 1978, Johnny "Guitar" Watson's backup band decided to record a project as the Watsonian Institute. Master Funk is the only LP that was released under that name, and for all intents and purposes, this is very much a Johnny "Guitar" Watson album. In addition to doing all of the producing and arranging, the late singer/guitarist wrote most of the material and contributed his share of lead vocals. So not surprisingly, his stamp is all over Master Funk. The main difference between this record and the hit albums that Watson had been recording under his own name in the 1970s is the fact that this release has a stronger jazz influence. While 1976's Ain't That a Bitch, 1977's A Real Mother for Ya, and 1977's Funk Beyond the Call of Duty are funk/soul albums first and foremost, Master Funk is an album in which funk, soul, and soul-jazz live under the same roof. Instrumentals like "Dr. John's Delight" and "Coming Around" are in the soul-jazz vein, and the jazz influence is also present on some of the tunes that Watson sings on. Master Funk is generally decent, but it's uneven, and it's an album that simmers without really catching fire. This vinyl LP wasn't among Watson's big sellers of the 1970s and is far from essential, although it's a fairly interesting listen if you're among his truly hardcore fans.