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Rough & Tough

John Hammond

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Album Review

John Hammond, Jr. has produced many hallmark albums during a 50-year career and 35 recordings, but Rough & Tough might top them all. Playing solo on a variety of guitars, a harmonica, and singing up a storm, Hammond acoustically interprets songs of the legendary bluesmen that established the urban Chicago train of thought. His choices should be very familiar to most blues fans, but the way he plays them are a throwback to pre-electric, back-porch days, when simplicity was the norm rather than amped-up volume. The energy is within Hammond's soul, and he lets it loose for every track of this extraordinary album. Interpreting songs by Muddy Waters and Little Walter comes naturally, but he also tackles tunes like Howlin' Wolf's "My Mind Is Ramblin'," and especially the low-down and dirty "No Place to Go," "Statesboro Blues," "It Hurts Me Too," and the delightful swing jazz classic "Chattanooga Choo Choo" are included, as well as Jerry McCain's more contemporary "She's Tough." Two originals by Hammond, "Slick Crown Vic" in boogie mode and the easygoing "Come to Find Out" are unearthed from previous recordings, emphasizing that he also stands proud as a presence among these giants. This is a flawless example of John Hammond's capabilities in presenting authentic blues with a feeling and passion that few artists can match, and comes with a high recommendation, and a well-deserved 2009 Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Blues Album. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Rough & Tough, John  Hammond
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