Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Elmore James: Let's Cut It: The Very Best of Elmore James [Flair/Virgin, 1991]
Already leading what must have been a pretty damn raucous Mississippi horn band by 1939, James is the missing link between Robert Johnson and Hound Dog Taylor. Johnson taught him, or couldn't stop him from stealing, the "Dust My Broom" lick he lived off of; Taylor converted his slashing simplification of Johnson's slide into something even simpler--boogie. These are the Bihari brothers-produced originals of tunes he recorded as often as he could get paid before drinking himself to cardiac arrest at 45 in 1963--not subtle, you could even say monochromatic, and they rock like nobody's business. I miss the endless despair of "1839 Blues" and the post-Bihari classic "It Hurts Me Too." But if you're so culturally deprived you can't hum "Dust My Broom," here's your chance to become an addict. A-