Here comes Johnny ... John Murray on the genius of Johnnt Marr

What would you expect from Johnny Marr? Crowned Godlike Genius at last month’s NME Awards it would be further recognition to the man behind some memorable riffs and writing with The Smiths. Not that he has been inactive since the acrimonious split with projects ranging from Electronic with Bernard Summer, The Healers, Seven Worlds Collide, The Cribs, countless session work and production credits for Modest Mouse yet when Ronnie Wood joined him on stage at the awards do it was How Soon Is Now they performed. His brand new solo album The Messenger (Warner), opens with a typical garage guitar on The Right Thing Right and critics have been quick to applaud the title track with its melodic overtones and nod to Kraftwerk’s The Model. Sun And Moon has a fast pace and hard fuzz guitar to it from the Dr Feelgood songbook and of course Upstarts was the likely first single with its retro old school guitar sound and immediate likeability. Expect great things from this album as Johnny embarks on a UK tour this month and to the US in April.

An album packed with great riffs next with Jock’s Juke Joint Vol. 2 (LHM), newly released fresh from the success of Vol 1 and a further example of Scottish Blues all together in one handy pack with 18 new tracks. No finer boogie than Blues ‘n’ Trouble opening with their own album title track Try Anything Twice is followed by all aspects of the blues. Memories of Gary Moore augmented by tasty inventive piano on the supreme Shutting Out The World from Wang Dang Delta is worth the price as is the diva ladies – Lynsey Dolan Band from Glasgow have the timeless Do Right Man while Edinburgh’s Cynthia Gentle and the True Tones add a soulful to You Just Can’t Win. One of the prime movers behind this project is 19 year old Lewis Hamilton himself as gifted blues guitarist and on this album he joins harmonica legend Fraser Speirs in a collaborative jam called There You Are Now which just begs for a full live version.