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John Hammond 

Ready for Love

Wednesday, May 14 2003
Though it may sound ridiculous to suggest that veteran bluesman John Hammond has begun to hit his stride after four decades on the scene, his new album, Ready for Love, presents a convincing case. Following up the success of 2001's Wicked Grin, Hammond's celebrated collection of Tom Waits covers, the guitarist and singer leads a first-rate band through a dynamic set of blues, country, and American roots classics and contemporary gems with a rare combination of supreme musicianship, deep feeling, and playful insouciance.

He delivers tight renditions of the haunting Muddy Waters vehicle "Same Thing" and the Waits house-rocker "Gin Soaked Boy" with a kind of back-porch ease that demonstrates utter kinship with the tunes. His head-bobbin' version of "Spider and the Fly," an old-school Rolling Stones blues piece, packs almost as much attitudinal good humor as the original. But Hammond ultimately lets loose, as only a ramblin' man of 60 can, on the venerable George Jones country vamps "Color of the Blues" and "Just One More." Gamely, the singer's beer-drunk vocal affect -- "One drink/ Just one more/ And then a-nother ..." -- comes across blearily cracked, almost tender, and strangely lovable. Meanwhile, Soozie Tyrell's fiddle props up Hammond's impish take on the archetypal Nashville ballad. Her oh-so-winsome empathy transports listeners to another era, when a man crying in his beer was just another come-on -- like the great American melodies on Ready for Love.

About The Author

Sam Prestianni


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