Johnny "Guitar" Watson was probably best known for his '70s funk incarnation, but he had been recording as early as the mid-'50s -- not as Johnny "Guitar" Watson, but as the piano-pounding bluesman Young John Watson. Space Guitar collects Watson's sessions recorded for Federal in the mid-'50s (his first sessions as a leader) and some early-'60s sides recorded for King. As mentioned, he was billed as Young John Watson for the Federal sides, and aside from a bit of guitar on one song at his first session ("Highway 60"), Watson stuck to piano for his first two sessions. These are your typical '50s blues: upbeat and passionate with driving piano and a horn section, solid if unspectacular. It wasn't until his third session for Federal in 1954 (two days before his 19th birthday) that he strapped on the guitar as his featured instrument and cut the astonishing "Space Guitar," presented here with an alternate take as well. There had never been anything that sounded like "Space Guitar," but aside from his newly discovered talent on guitar, Watson really came to life as a performer during this session (just check out "Gettin' Drunk"). The '60s sessions are pretty much more of the same, highlighted by his second recorded version of "Gangster of Love." Space Guitar makes a perfect companion to The Best of the Modern Years (which compiles his RPM/Modern sides) for a total portrait of Johnny "Guitar" Watson's early career.