Push Comes to Shove

Blues mainstay John Hammond has earned his respect honestly over the course of more than 30 albums and now 45 years of a recording career. He certainly doesn't need to pander to a younger crowd to keep his albums lively; in fact, his recent records have been full of vigor and excitement, perhaps enlivened by his first original compositions on his records coming a mere four years ago.

However, Hammond chose to sign up Philadelphia groove/blues/rocker G. Love to produce the new record. Love has counted Hammond among his musical heroes, seeing him live while still in high school. As producer, Love's goal was for Hammond to include more originals. Five of the CD's twelve tracks are written by Hammond.

Hammond's playing and singing is fine throughout the record, and Love produced with a light touch, keeping the focus fully on Hammond, except for one song, a version of "Tore Down" on which G. Love duets.

The material is juicy, whether penned by Hammond or written by others. Hammond does good interpretations of songs by Junior Wells, Little Walter, and Tom Waits. There's one written by G. Love, and a cover of "If You Wanna Rock & Rock" by Dion from his acoustic blues record from last year.

As G. Love says of the album, "It's raw, it's dirty, it's blues, but it still has a funky edge to it." That about sums it up as good as can be.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director