2 LPs on 1 CD: AND I KNOW YOU WANT TO DANCE/WHISKEY A GOGO.
Personnel: Johnny Rivers (guitar); Chuck Day, Joe Osborn (guitar, bass guitar); Eddie Rubin (drums); Larry Knechtel (organ); Mickey Jones (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Andrew Thompson .
Liner Note Authors: Richard Oliver; John Tobler.
Photographer: Guy Webster.
At a time when the British Invasion was taking over the charts in America and the first flashes of psychedelia were appearing on the horizon of rock music, Johnny Rivers was a guy who had no problem carrying the flag for simple, meat-and-potatoes rock & roll. He was also good enough at it that he didn't sound reactionary, but like someone who loved the classic styles of rock and R&B and gave them the respect they deserved, not unlike John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival a few years down the road (though Rivers didn't have the songwriting knack that was Fogerty's strongest asset). Rivers cut several strong live albums at his favorite stomping grounds, the Whisky a Go-Go in Los Angeles, and this two-fer CD from Beat Goes On records pairs up two of the later LPs in the series, 1966's And I Know You Wanna Dance and 1967's Whisky a Go-Go Revisited. Both albums play to Rivers' strengths as a tough, no-nonsense guitar player and passionate blue-eyed soul singer who knew how to rock the house and get the crowd up on its feet, though the 12 months that separated the two sets proved significant. And I Know You Wanna Dance is dominated by covers of R&B hits of the day, ranging from Arthur Alexander's "Every Day I Have to Cry" to Stevie Wonder's "Uptight (Everything's Alright)," with Rivers and his band (including session greats Mickey Jones and Larry Knetchel) locked in tight on the tunes. The first half of Whisky a Go-Go Revisited follows a similar form, but side two was devoted to a 15-minute jam on "John Lee Hooker," and the stretched-out length of the performance and the call-and-response interplay between Rivers and Knetchel suggests they were aware of what was going on in the rock ballrooms in San Francisco, and if it wasn't quite Johnny's thing, it was certainly having its influence (and would also make its presence felt on his next few studio albums, though the guy never developed much of a taste for the trippy stuff). Fine listening, and good rockin' fun from an artist deserving of greater respect. ~ Mark Deming