JOHN HAMMOND – Rough & Tough – John Hammond, guitar – Chesky Records

by | Feb 24, 2010 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

JOHN HAMMOND – Rough & Tough – John Hammond, guitar – Chesky Records multichannel SACD346,  59:00 ****1/2:

Here’s a rarity smack in the middle of today’s electronic blues: an acoustic release by veteran John Hammond. Rough & Tough has the master singing some of his own tunes as well as some blues standards: Still a Fool and I Can’t Be Satisfied (Muddy Waters), My Mind is Rambling and No Place to Go by (the unforgettable Chester Burnett–“Howlin’ Wolf”), Up the Line and Got to Find My Baby (the immortal Walter Jacobs–“Little Walter”) and others. It’s like a compendium of the greats of the last fifty years. About the only cut that doesn’t fit it is the schmaltzy Chattanooga Choo Choo (first recorded by Glenn Miller in 1941).

Hammond gives each song special attention, and while his style doesn’t vary much from intense and furious to intense and fast, it’s well-worth sharing in civilized company. His voice is starting to crack, most notable in My Time After Awhile. It’s hard to tell whether its true degenerative cracking (2009 Bob Dylan) or just stylized huskiness (1979 Marianne Faithful). As SACD sound, the disc makes you feel like you’re right next to the stage, watching and smelling him sweat. His harmonica and picking style are stunning, as in the Tom Waits number Get Behind the Mule. I almost prefer this version to the one he did on the electric Wicked Grin, his Tom Waits collaboration from 2001. When he sings “stirring my brandy with a nail,” you can picture him actually doing it between numbers. His Statesboro Blues reminds me of the acoustic Tom Rush version from the 1966 Take a Little Walk with Me, but of course it’s better. More evolved. This record has such an authentic feel, it can’t possibly disappoint a true blues fan.


1. My Mind is Ramblin’     
2. Still a Fool     
3. Up the Line     
4. My Time After Awhile     
5. Got To Find My Baby     
6. She’s Tough     
7. Chattanooga Choo Choo     
8. Statesboro Blues     
9. I Can Tell     
10. Get Behind the Mule     
11. No Place To Go     
12. Slick Crown Vic     
13. Come To Find Out     
14. It Hurts Me Too     
15. I Can’t Be Satisfied
— Peter Bates

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