Spun: John Hammond

Despite 44 years on the road and in the studio, blues vocalist, guitarist and harp player John Hammond sounds vibrant and re-born on his latest release, Push Comes To Shove. Forsaking the convenience of ProTool’s digital enhancements, the blues veteran purposefully recorded the sessions live in analogue format to obtain a dirty, authentic and vital sound.

Producer G. Love, a.k.a. Garrett Dutton, (once dubbed the ‘hip-hop John Hammond’) wisely allows his hero’s strengths to dominate the proceedings. Hammond’s weathered vocals and gut-wrenching harp are supported by a mean, rocking rhythm section comprised mostly of his long-time touring band.

Hammond contributes five rare original tunes to the mix, while the rest are gritty interpretations of some of his favourite blues standards, including Junior Wells’ “Come On In This House,” and Little Walter’s “Everything Gonna Be Alright.” There’s also a funked-up version of G. Love’s “Butter” and a slightly hip-hopped treatment of Sonny Thompson’s “I’m Tore Down.”

While Push Comes To Shove is a strong blues album in glorious tradition, it also reveals a newly founded sense of urgency from a proven blues legend.

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