Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Big Joe Turner: Joe Turner's Blues [Topaz, 1998]
Even by Kansas City standards, Turner was pretty primal. The aspiring urbanity of Jimmy Rushing and Jimmy Witherspoon didn't suit him--he's a whale out of water in the big-band settings his Rhino triple is forever upgrading to. Here he hollers and moans over boogie-woogie piano--especially Pete Johnson, but also, and differently, Meade Lux Lewis, Willie "The Lion" Smith, Albert Ammons, even Art Tatum--and combos playing de facto jump blues. Broke as the Ten Commandments or taking jockey lessons because he ain't no monkey man, he's a country bluesman with a jazzman's phrasing and a bad mother fuyer's certainty of his own endangered prerogatives. A-