Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Buddy Guy: Sweet Tea [Silvertone, 2001]
Dragged bitching and moaning down to Fat Possum, Mississippi, to sing a sheaf of nonhits written by rubes in overalls he'd never heard of, the great totem of Chicago blues gets large on the pop process in which a producer induces an artist with more talent than concept to make a good album. That Dennis Herring boasts among his credits Counting Crows and Jars of Clay only proves George Martin's Law: You can lead a horse with no name to the mic, but you can't hum a few bars of "Love Me Do" and expect him to sing it for you. And since this producer also collects antique amplifiers, not only did he introduce his new property to the untapped songbook of Junior Kimbrough et al., he hooked the property's snazzy guitar to machines so raunchy they make his old Chess stuff sound like Motown. Adding a showman's drama to the kind of material that normally requires a porch or roadhouse, he created a landmark of neoprimitivism. May it outsell every soul record he's ever made soon enough for him to try it again. A-