Guitar Aficionado

Eric Johnson Conquers Europe, Returns with Live Album

‘Europe Live’ will feature 14 tracks, including a pair of brand-new compositions.

By Christopher Scapelliti

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Watch for a new Eric Johnson live release, coming out June 24 on Provogue Records.

Europe Live will feature 14 tracks recorded on his 2013 tour of the continent. The songs draw from the span of Johnson’s 35-year career and include two new compositions: the mesmeric “Intro,” which opens the set, and the rollicking rocker “Evinrude Fever,” a song that alludes to Johnson’s love of water skiing and boating.

In addition, the disc includes fresh performances of his Grammy-winning instrumental “Cliffs of Dover” and Grammy-nominated track “Zap.” Other highlights include a stunning nine-and-a-half minute interpretation of John Coltrane’s “Mr. P.C.” and the 11-and-a-half-minute multimodal suite “Last House on the Block,” as well as performances of “Austin,” “40 Mile Town,” “A Song for Life,” “Fatdaddy,” “Zenland,” “Manhattan,” and “When the Sun Meets the Sky” (titled “Sun Reprise”).

Europe Live was recorded in various venues throughout the continent. The majority of the album captures Johnson's appearance at Amsterdam’s Melkweg, with the remainder drawn from dates in Köln, Böchum, and Paris.

“Working on this live record was kind of an epiphany for me,” Johnson says, “because I realized that this is where it’s at — no matter where you’re playing, it should be a performance. The more I do that, the more I realize, Wow, there’s something special there.

“I’m enjoying playing more now because I am so committed to making sure that facet is really up front — one of the number-one things. And I’ve been doing it in the studio when people send me tracks to play on, and I say, ‘Okay, hit record, and let’s just do this all the way through.’ And I listen back and go, ‘Wow, that’s just more interesting and enjoyable to listen to.’”

Johnson will follow up Europe Live with an album recorded with friend and fellow guitarist Mike Stern. He is also composing and recording tracks for both a new electric album as well as his first acoustic guitar release.

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Photo by Max Crace