Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Living Chicago Blues Volume I [Alligator, 1979]
A problem with the three-artists-per-disc, four-cuts-per-artist format of this estimable series is that it splits one artist per disc between two sides, requiring him to meld with both of the others. Fortunately, the great dirty mean of Eddie Shaw seems made for such journeywork, linking the gutbucket soul of Jimmy Johnson, certainly the most exciting singer of the nine, and Left-Hand Frank's right-hand-in-the-Delta primitivism. Which suggests that the distance between Johnson's pop ambitions (Bette Midler beat him to one of these songs) and Frank's rural idiosyncrasy isn't as great as might appear, because both are irreducibly sexual and Southern. An advantage of the format is that you can buy one disc at a time. Get my drift? A-