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Fingertip Ship [Import]

Richard Leo JohnsonAudio CD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 12, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Blue Note Records
  • ASIN: B00000I41D
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,985 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Heart Of Palm
2. Glidepath
3. Tony Bennett
4. Mother's Day
5. Thirteen Year Emergence Suite: Bluefield
6. Thirteen Year Emergence Suite: Get Funked
7. Thirteen Year Emergence Suite: Cicada
8. Thirteen Year Emergence Suite: The Filing
9. Jaco Morocco
10. Synthetic Blues
11. Heart Of The Beast
12. Prometheus Meets The Digital Age
13. Empitsu No Uta

Editorial Reviews

With all his incredible virtuosic technique, and a boatload of imaginative tunings and improvisational structures, Richard Leo Johnson falls squarely into the "where've they been all these years?" file. Johnson, a professional photographer whose interest in the acoustic guitar compelled him to practice and play constantly, has devised multiple unique tunings and fingerings, turning his double-neck acoustic into far more than the sum of its strings, chords, and customary harmonic possibilities. Where the late Michael Hedges once walked, Johnson is now sprinting, playing at frantic speeds with pile-ups of notes and hard-strummed concatenations making the ear race to follow. For all the tunings and preparations, though, there are eminently warm moments, albeit ones that will fascinate the ears of the adventurous and the guitarophile equally: "Prometheus Meets the Digital Age" is full of middle-low register playing that invokes a Dobro before going into clipped repetitions that sound unreproducible. Johnson is a magical talent and perhaps the next in a short line of guitar greats--a line that includes Hedges, Derek Bailey, Pat Metheny, Sonny Sharrock, and precious few others. --Andrew Bartlett


When one considers it's a solo album, Fingertip Ship boggles the mind. It sounds like guitarist Richard Leo Johnson either used some serious multi-tracking or possesses an extra appendage. Actually, neither is true - Johnson's puzzling pyrotechnics come from his idiosyncratic approach to a double-necked 12-string/six-string, hybrid acoustic guitar. In effect, he's his own combo.

Like its title suggests, Fingertip Ship makes for good traveling music, but it alternates between sounding like sailboats and train engines. The first tune, "Glidepath," chugs along as if self-propelled, heavy-strumming patterns loaded with rhythmic energy. By contrast, the calming chords of the next track, "Tony Bennett," flow effortlessly. Percussive knocking on the body of the guitar creates an effect akin to droplets as they break the surface of placid pools. Arpeggiated chords ripple through, emerging from the undercurrents.

All the tunes display remarkably rich textures. Bass lines and treble figures retain a striking degree of independence, in part a byproduct of the unique instrument. Johnson's tunes would gain from more melodic emphasis, yet his array of well-placed timbral effects - strumming below the bridge, occasional harmonics, and various percussive sounds - keep this predominantly rhythmic album interesting and varied.

--- Lara Pellegrinelli, JAZZIZ Magazine Copyright © 2000, Milor Entertainment, Inc. -- From Jazziz

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but Don Ross is more musical February 24, 2000
Format:Audio CD
Richard Leo Johnson has outdone Hedges in edgey, percussive, harmonic-ringing playing, but not in musical interest. Johnson still has to be heard to be believed, though. And just when you think he's worn out every textural possibility a guitar is capable of, he goes and plays an entire song above the nut! -and it's actually captivating! Ok, so why do I withhold my fifth star? It's because there is very little breathing room to Johnson's composition style, and even less lyricisim. It is just relentlessly rhythmic and fast. However, I find myself strangely addicted and keep going back to it, like some kind of wierd cheese facination. Anyway, Don Ross' recent debut on Narada: "Passion Session" is another outgrowth of the Hedges phenominon, but a more sucessfull one. Ross is MUCH more musical, without selling out to the modern "pretty boys" of the fasionable fingerpick set. Buy both of these CD's for some real humility if you play.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars acoustic guitar nirvana October 7, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
this guy is beyond anything i have ever heard on acoustic guitar, including the great Michael Hedges. if you like Hedges or any sort of guitar virtuosity get your hands on this album. he is so good it makes your head hurt. (in a good way)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inventive Chop Master July 13, 2000
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
If your a solo guitar lightweight, i wouldn't reccomend this CD. Its heavy on techniques, chops and abstract usage of tapping & captuirng weird new sounds out of the guitar.
To that end, It IS however, extremely interesting and this player is clearly a technical wizard.
If you want pretty new age melodies, stick with Will Ackerman, if you want something more progressive, check this one out.
Guitarists will like it a lot...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!! December 1, 2002
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
My husband and I were first introduced to Richard Leo Johnson on a radio station while in the car. It was a surreal experience. Thankfully we had our cell phone and were able to call the station to ask who the artist was and what album the song was on. Through this album titled Fingertip Ship Johnson has won me over! When made aware that this was a solo album, I was incredulous. How can any one person with 10 fingers master an acoustic instrument in this manner? Tracks such as "Prometheus Meets the Digital Age" and "Get Funked" (track six, spelling accurate, don't worry) propels the listener to believe that surely there is more than one track being heard. "Mother's Day" displays yet another aspect of Johnson's ability by creating a tender, thoughtful piece of musical scenery.
Flawlessly produced, creatively inspired, Johnson truly has a gift. Would love to see his photography! If done with the skill and passion of his musical ablilities it must be amazing!....
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncompromising passion, unbridled creativity! February 24, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Richard Leo Johnson is a hero, a dragon-slayer on the frontier of acoustic music. Taylor Guitar's newsletter Wood and Steel says that "Johnson is to new age as the Boston Strangler was to neck massage." I find it hard to argue with that. This recording awakens passions deep within the listener, more earthy than etherial, more sexual than sensual, altogether wild and glorious. Anyone who has ever seen this man play knows he is a marvel of strength and control, and yet his creativity is utterly untamed and highly charged. From the raw power of the testosterone-injected "Synthetic Blues" to the gentle "simplicated" beauty of "Mother's Day," this recording is a study in "quantum melodics." He tells us stories, somehow painted with sounds, like lucid dreams the listener waunders into. There is also great tenderness and a gentle wisdom in these power-chord melodies. Johnson possesses the same off-beat musical sense of humor that made Thelonious Monk a legend; quirky but never coy; graceful slapstick, larger-than-life charm. Why are there only 5 stars? Johnson's "Fingertip Ship" is an entire galaxy.
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