JOHNNY OTIS & FRIENDS Watts Funky (BGP/Ace) Rating: NNNN
Today, Johnny Otis is probably best known as the Los Angeles R&B bandleader behind the juke classic Willie And The Hand Jive, but along with being a sharp talent scout -- he's credited with discovering Esther Phillips, Etta James, Hank Ballard, Little Willie John and Jackie Wilson -- Otis also recorded and released some outrageously bumpin' singles during the 70s. The cuts on his own indie labels, Hawk Sound, Jazz World and Lujon, are collected on the stunningly solid Watts Funky disc. Ice Water Slim's hard-grooving I Don't Understand It and the Meters-esque Humpty Dump by the Vibrettes are just the start of a killer set that digs deep into previously unreleased material by the likes of Doug Wintz and Willie Webb. Those who recently picked up on the mind-blowing talent of Otis's son Shuggie Otis will be pleased to know that the kid's scorching guitar is all over these tracks. Get down.