Just Press Play: Johnny Compton

SAM OWENS | Charleston Gazette-Mail
Local rocker and bluesman Johnny Compton sits at the bar at the Monkey Barrel and holds a new guitar that he got from the company Killer B Guitars in Memphis, Tennessee. Compton contributed to this week’s Just Press Play.

Johnny Compton is one of the great veterans of the Charleston music scene and over the years has done a little bit of everything, from hosting open mics to playing in some of the best rock bands in the valley. His current outfits include the Diablo Blues Band, the metal edged Black Cross Brotherhood and hard rocking Prank Monkey, which performs Saturday night at Cross Roads Bar on Greenbrier Street. Compton’s picks show a different side to the rock and blues axe-man, but that may be because he recently started listening to vinyl.

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Otis Redding, ‘In Person Live at the Whiskey a Go Go’

This album captures Otis at his peak and his band is absolutely on fire. ... Four saxophones, two trumpets, a trombone, bass and lead guitar, drums and four backup singers perfectly complement Otis. His voice is in top form as always and his versions of “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” and “Pappa’s Got a Brand New Bag” are crushing. This album also contains my favorite version of “These Arms of Mine.” Amazing live album.

Dean Martin, ‘Hits again’

Until recently, I wasn’t a fan of the Rat Pack singers, but this is a great album with my favorite Martin chestnut: “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You.” The performances are flawless, as you would expect from the heavyweight session players of the time and Dean’s boozy delivery seals the deal. Good stuff.

Al Di Meola, ‘Tour de Force Live’

If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re right — I love live albums, lol. I’ve just recently been exposed to Al Di Meola and I don’t know why I haven’t gotten into him before. Unbelievably talented guitarist and bar none one of the fastest, cleanest players out there. He went through a period of only playing acoustic, but has recently picked up electric again and is touring. “Race with Devil on Spanish Highway” should be essential listening for any guitarist who fancies themselves to be a shredder. Big shoes.

Robin Trower, ‘Bridge of Sighs’

This is my favorite Robin Trower of all time and was quite excited to find it on vinyl. In my opinion, his finest work. This album contains all the Trower classics; “Day of the Eagle,” “Too Rolling Stoned,” “Little Bit of Sympathy” and the epic title track. This is Robin at his best. Bluesy, melodic and Hendrixy, a trifecta that can’t be beat.

Ted Nugent, ‘Double Live Gonzo’

Before you say anything, I know — Ted is a whack job. But the bottom line is, this was the album that got me started as a lead guitarist. This album is the benchmark for blues-based shredding and the between-song banter is pure comedic gold. Do yourself a favor and give a listen the glory that is “Great White Buffalo” and “Yank Me, Crank Me.” You will be entertained and offended. Isn’t that why we all listen to music?

Johnny Compton is one of the best known rock guitarists in the Kanawha Valley. He shows up in area clubs pretty much every week. When he’s not playing music, he’s probably asleep.

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