Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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John Hammond

  • Southern Fried [Atlantic, 1969] C

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Southern Fried [Atlantic, 1969]
Another Col. Sanders special from the white Taj Mahal. The playing is very good and Hammond's taste in blues-based material original enough, but his vocal style demeans his mentors. Otiose. C

Further Notes:

Subjects for Further Research [1970s]: It's not true that Hammond never developed his own style--his distinctive slur is very much a function of his unique vocal embouchure (he has a slight speech impediment). It offended rock critics--including me--not just because it seemed like a condescending mouldy-fig romanticization of the broken-down bluesman but because it wasn't forceful enough for rock and roll, as if he'd turned Junior Wells into John Hurt. I've never kept many of his records and suspect they still suffer from interpreter's disease--it's almost impossible to make every song new. But I wouldn't be altogether astonished if in twenty years he sounded almost as good as Junior Wells.