Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  Expert Witness
  Is It Still Good to Ya?
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Xgau Sez
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Rolling Stone
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
Web Site:
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
CG Search:
Google Search:

Consumer Guide Album

James Blood Ulmer: Odyssey [Columbia, 1983]
I always figured great Blood would sound like the climactic "Swing and Things"--pure virtuosic rave-up, Mahavishnu with soul and ideas. But of course, great Blood ended up sounding like nothing I could have predicted. With a new band comprising drummer Warren Benbow and violinist Charles Burnham--that's right, funk fans, no bass, though with Ulmer's strong fingers you can't always tell--he's created an ur-American synthesis that takes in jazz, rock, Delta blues (suddenly his mush-mouthed vocals kick home, especially on the heart-torn "Please Tell Her"), and even country music (though Burnham's fiddle also has a Middle Eastern effect). I don't mean he goes from one to the other, either--most of the time, you'd be hard-pressed to pin just one style on any of this painfully beautiful stuff. Great Blood, that's all. A