Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Champion Jack Dupree

  • Forever and Ever [Bullseye Blues, 1992] A-
  • One Last Time [Bullseye Blues, 1993] *
  • A Portrait of Champion Jack Dupree [Rounder, 2000] A-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Forever and Ever [Bullseye Blues, 1992]
On the label debut of this long-exiled songster-pianist, the Rounder folks worked session men, thematic material, and MLK rumination into a standard Crescent City hustle, sending the roots claque into paroxysms of approbation. Here the quality control board lets up some, with results that seem far more personal and overheard--a dirty old man in fine fettle entertaining the room. And for sure his age is part of the charm. When an 82-year-old can sing the blues about how his family gave him away when he was one, you know his shtick has staying power. A-

One Last Time [Bullseye Blues, 1993]
the boys in the band listen like it's their last chance ("Bad Blood," "School Days") *

A Portrait of Champion Jack Dupree [Rounder, 2000]
An expatriate at 50, the overrecorded last of the barrelhouse pianists laid down some of his best music in sweet home New Orleans before he went back to Hamburg to die at 82: hyped supersession, cockeyed follow-up, posthumous farewell. I've always preferred the follow-up, in part because it begins with the adoptee's lament "They Gave Me Away," in part because it seems so uncalculated and associative--an entertainer made not born letting down what hair he's got left because he's too old to play it safe anymore. All the wildest stuff from that one is here, together with the tightest stuff from the debut and the most responsive stuff from the farewell. Songster blues. Decrepitude feeling its oats. A-