Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Taj Mahal: Maestro [Heads Up, 2008]
Maybe I have a weakness for African-Americans from Hawaii, or maybe this one knows how to bend the blues, croon the diaspora and also sing Hawaiian. Then again, on his strongest non-collaborative album since the '70s, it's possible he's just extra excited. At 66, he leads multiple bands, including Los Lobos and Ivan Neville's crew through previously unmined naturals, from "Scratch My Back" to "Diddy Wah Diddy," and keeper originals such as "Strong Man Holler," in praise of a woman who was sweet 17 in halcyon 1959. A-