Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Hank Ballard & the Midnighters

  • Sexy Ways: The Best of Hank Ballard & the Midnighters [Rhino, 1993] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Sexy Ways: The Best of Hank Ballard & the Midnighters [Rhino, 1993]
Doing my due diligence, I bought the easier-to-find 2005 King iteration of this canonical comp, All 20 of Their Chart Hits. But though you may have to settle for it, I'm glad I don't. I prefer the dance novelties (best: the stepping-in-space "The Float," complete with wobbly out-of-phase backup) with which it replaces Rhino's r&b marginalia (best: the Marty Robbins tune "Sugaree"), but the sound is tinnier and the annotation nonexistent all the way down to the composer credits. The 15 songs the two share are the nub of Ballard's achievement not counting "How You Gonna Get Respect (If You Haven't Cut Your Process Yet)." That the man who had hits with "Work With Me Annie" and "Annie Had a Baby" also had hits with "The Twist" and "Finger Poppin' Time" (and wrote three of them) is all you need know of the breadth of his vision. Ballard's businesslike determination to create a disturbance in your equilibrium never slackens. He's disruptive in a way most quality r&b is too focused on music per se to have time for. A-