Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Piano Blues: A Film by Clint Eastwood [Columbia/Legacy, 2003]
Branding being a fact of musical life, title listings often cite series overseer Martin Scorsese, who only wishes he had ears like his subcontractor's. The first 16 tracks here are so historically astute--and skip so gracefully from instrumental to occasional vocal, from boogie-woogie to big band--you could almost call them, well, curated. So much of it is absolutely classic that it's kind of a shame that the last four tracks were newly recorded under Eastwood's supervision even though Dr. John co-owns "Big Chief," the Pinetop Perkins-Marcia Ball duet gives the octogenarians and the ladies some, and the other two ain't bad either. This is the record to put on when you feel like some blues but aren't in a guitar mood. "What'd I Say" and "Tipitina" it's hard to hear too many times. The Ellington-Mingus-Roach "Backward Country Boy Blues," which had passed from my mind, is almost as good. A