Mon. Dec. 10, 2018

Wah Wah Watson – Goo Goo Wah Wah (Columbia)

Lost but not least! Wah Wah Watson – Goo Goo Wah Wah (Columbia)

“Goo Goo Wah Wah…” A title which may not ring a bell to some of you, although almost sayin’ it all for others. This bringin’ us back to the launch of the Wah-wah pedal in the mid-60’s. If not the wah-wah-effect which first appeared 40 years before. With trumpet or trombone players finding they could produce an expressive crying tone by moving a mute in and out of the instrument’s bell. Meanwhile “Wah-wah” (or “wa-wa”) is an imitative word (or onomatopoeia) for the sound of altering the resonance of musical notes to extend expressiveness. Sounding much like a human voice saying the syllable wah. The wah-wah effect being a spectral glide, a “modification of the vowel quality of a tone”.

Such a tool which Mevin ‘Wah Wah Watson’ Ragin made himself a specialist of added a lot to the psychedelism of music. With the man unsurprisingly comin’ to collaborate with producer Norman Whitfield. Be it with Undisputed Truth on ‘You + Me = Love’ among others. As with The Temptations on the memorable ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’. Not to mention Rose Royce‘s ‘Car Wash’.

More of a sideman, Watson nevertheless released one album on his own – ‘Elementary’ – back in 1976. The latter opening itself on the firing ‘Goo Goo Wah Wah’. An infectiously so to say vocoderized piece of psyche Funk that saw him sharing the duties with a bunch of serious jammers. From Louis Johnson (bass) to Ray Parker, Jr. (guitar). But also Joe Sample (piano) and Ollie Brown of the Ollie & Jerry fame on drums…

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Overview
A native of Richmond, VA, Melvin Ragin mostly made himself a name as a session guitarist, famed for his skills with a wah wah pedal (hence his nickname). Relocating to Detroit, MI, he first came to recognition as a member of Motown Records house band The Funk Brothers. Therefore recording with luminaries such as The Jackson 5 (‘ABC’), The Temptations (‘Masterpiece’) and Marvin Gaye (‘Let’s Get It On’). Not to mention Rose Royce (‘Car Wash’). Or Webster Lewis (‘You Deserve To Dance’). Then quickly broadening his portofolio meanwhile collaborating with Michael Jackson (‘Off The Wall’) and Herbie Hancock. But also Brian McKnight, Meshell NdegéOcello or Maxwell to name a few.

He ironically released only one album on his own – ‘Elementary’ – back in 1976 – which includes the quintessential ‘Goo Goo Wah Wah’. Jammin’ along with luminaries such as Louis Johnson (bass) Ray Parker, Jr. (guitar), Joe Sample (piano) and Ollie Brown on drums…

Wah Wah Watson sadly died, aged 67, on Oct. 24, 2018 at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, CA.

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