Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
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The Best Don't Always Make It
M. Hughes | 06/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The best don't necessarily make it, and being very good at what you do is not enough. That is the sad story of a great Austin, Texas rock quartet signed back in the spring of 1990 during the SxSW music festival. At a time when Stevie Ray Vaughan was breaking out big and the raw southern rock sound was coming back into vogue, bands like the Black Crowes, Drivin'n'Cryin and Johnny Law were being courted by a number of indie labels. This finally seemed to be the year that Johnny Law would finally break out big after having been the local Austin darling for most of the Eighties. Problem was, coming out of the glam rock era of the 80's, few of these labels really knew what to do with these bands or how to market them once they had them signed. The exception was the Black Crowes - fortunately signed by Warner/Wea and turned over to the capable hands of engineer Brendan O'Brien, who would later produce Johnny Law's debut album. Nevertheless, it seemed that all the ingredints were in place for the same sort of success that the Crowes experienced to be emulated by what was a musically more talented group and a better song writing duo in Brady Hughes and Erik Larson, the two lead guitarists of the band. And that is not a knock on the Crowes - a great band - it is just simply a consensus fact by anyone who had ever seen the bands play live or session in rehearsals. Johnny Law went into the recording studio the summer of 1990 able to draw on a playlist of songs more than sixty deep, all original compositions, for their first album. The Crowes, a half and half band (originals versus covers), could not boast the same. Few bands could going into their first sessions. Metal Blade, the label that had signed Johnny Law was terribly enthusiastic about their new find - and for them, a totally new direction and sound - and hoped that Johnny Law would be the band to broaden their offering beyond what for them had always been the slash Metal niche and metal performance bands such as GWAR. Johnny Law had the potential to be their break out band too. But the rep that had signed them soon started running into cold feet and vacillation back at the office in Los Angeles. They were having second thoughts, even though the advanced reviews prior to the album's release were strong and positive. During their first trip out to L.A. to do some club dates and photo sessions for the album art work, Metal Blade started dropping hints that the guys look wasn't quite right. Flowing bohemian shirts and jeans might work for the Black Crowes, but Metal Blade's stock in trade were long flowing hairdos, black leather pants and dark eye shadow. The band, Erik Larson (guitar and lead vocals), Ron McRae (bass), Matt Dunlap (drums) and Brady Hughes (guitar), were naturally reluctant to suddenly adopt a style that was not naturally theirs. The photo session was a dead end, the photographer an amateur, and the results - predictably - poor. No one was happy. A simple stock photo of an old police crusier would eventually adorn the cover. The next problem arose when Metal Blade didn't know where to put the band in terms of attaching Johnny Law as an opening act on some of the regional tours in the Spring of 1991. Natural pairs like the Black Crowes or Drivin'n'Cryin did not materialize, instead they were stuck with the excellent blues artist Steve Morse, hardly Johnny Laws potential audience. An audience of whom most would be in their late 30's or 40's, and not likely to be buying thousands of CD's of the hard driving rock band. 1991 was also the summer of the travelling rock and roll road show, and today everyone remembers Lollapalooza, but few remember the Gathering of the Tribes, the rival rock and roll road show. Johnny Law had the misfortune to be slated for the latter - another fine Metal Blade decision - Lollapalooza flourished as did many of the bands from the exposure that show brought. The Tribes festival collapsed and cancelled. Soon after what money Metal Blade had earmarked for promoting their new band was withdrawn and a music video for their single "Too Weak to Fight" - an absolute must - was killed. The choice of that single had also been a terrible point of contention between the band and the label. The track penned by former Georgia Satellite and band friend Dan Baird was one of only two covers on the eleven track CD, the other being Ronnie Wood's (Rolling Stones guitarist) "We All Get Old". The band wanted to lead with one of their tracks, nervous label execs went with the cover. The rest is history. Listen to the album for yourself, you can still find the copies, it was well distributed by Warner - I bought my copy in New Jersey, other fans bought theirs in Germany and Holland. And you can hear their song "Hold Me Down" in the opening sequence of the movie "Freddy's Dead - The Final Nightmare" of the Nightmare on Elm Street series of films or mentioned in the tape archives of the Howard Stern show when Chris Robinson said that one of the best bands he was listening to at the time was Johnny Law. But the best don't necessarily make it. Enjoy."