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John Hammond: At the Crossroads: The Blues of Robert Johnson

[cover art]

2003 compilation with Hammond doing Robert Johnson songs. Includes tracks from his 1964 sessions with the Hawks (Levon, Garth and Robbie), originally released on the '60s LPs So Many Roads and Mirrors.

If Robert Johnson could look down from heaven or up from hell, he'd likely find it very interesting that John Hammond Jr. had covered his songs. Here is a white guy, after all, who sounds like a black blues singer and chooses -- of his own free will -- to frequently return to the repertoire of an obscure black guitarist/singer from the 1930s. At the Crossroads collects this musical meeting of the minds -- or souls -- by gathering 14 of Hammond's Johnson covers, recorded between 1965 and 1978. Like Johnson, Hammond relies mostly on solo acoustic guitar. In this way, it's easy to certify his versions of "Come on in My Kitchen" and "32-20 Blues" as the real deal, or, as a folk enthusiast would say, "authentic." At the same time, renditions of "Milkcow's Calf Blues" and "Stones in My Passway" are less raw and penetrating than Johnson's, and one could easily say that Hammond's real gift is that of a popularizer of rural acoustic blues. The last four cuts include full-band takes of "Sweet Home Chicago," "When You Got a Good Friend," "Judgment Day," and "Rambling Blues." While these cuts surely won't pass the purity test, they're nonetheless lots of fun. At the Crossroads is a cross-cultural, racial, and generational document, and offers a good one-stop look at one artist's nod toward another.
--Ronnie D. Lankford Jr., All-Music Guide


  1. 32-20 Blues (Johnson)
  2. Milkcow's Calf Blues (Johnson)
  3. Traveling Riverside Blues (Johnson)
  4. Stones in My Passway (Johnson)
  5. Cross Road Blues (Johnson)
  6. Hellhound Blues (Hellhound on My Trail) (Johnson)
  7. Me and the Devil Blues [live] (Johnson)
  8. Walking Blues (Johnson)
  9. Come on in My Kitchen (Johnson)
  10. Preaching Blues (Up Jumped the Devil) (Johnson)
  11. Sweet Home Chicago performed by Hammond / Nighthawks
  12. When You Got a Good Friend (Johnson)
  13. Judgment Day (If I Had Possession Over... (Johnson)
  14. Rambling Blues (Rambling on My Mind) (Johnson)

John Hammond - At The Crossroads - 2003 - Vanguard 79751

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