John Hammond, a New York native (son of John Hammond the producer who had
discovered Bob Dylan), become a staple of the Greenwich Movement with his
passionate recreation of the blues.
Hammond debuted in 1962 with a collection of acoustic blues classics,
John Hammond (Vanguard, 1962), and that remained his style for a while.
Big City Blues (Vanguard, 1964) had more rock and roll
(most selections are by Chuck Berry and Willie Dixon) and
Country Blues (Vanguard, 1964) had more Delta blues, but the style
was fiercely acoustic.
His work was recognized as important by rock musicians because it helped
uncover forgotten heroes of the blues. Unlike John Mayall in Britain, though,
Hammond was a faithful recreator of the original sound, and that was also
his limit. He was a living documentary of the blues.
He finally embraced the electric instrumentation on two albums with backing
from Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson and Levon Helm (before they renamed
themselves The Band),
So Many Roads (Vanguard, 1965), mainly devoted to
Bo Diddley and Willie Dixon, and
Mirrors (Vanguard, 1967), with several Robert Johnson compositions;
then I Can Tell (Atlantic, 1967), again in the tradition of Willie
Dixon and John Lee Hooker, featured Bill Wyman of the Rolling
Stones, Robbie Robertson and Rick Danko.
Sooner Or Later (Atlantic, 1968), with two Sonny Boy Williamson songs,
and Southern Fried (Atlantic, 1969), with a mixture of blues and
rock and roll, ended the Sixties on a sour note.
Source Point (Columbia, 1970), long delayed, was finally released, but
for a few years Hammond was engaged only to compose the
soundtrack for Little Big Man (1971)
and to play in the Triumvirate (Columbia, 1973), with Dr. John and Michael Bloomfield.
I'm Satisfied (Columbia, 1972), mostly a tribute to Delaney Bramlett,
was the only solo album of these years
(several encyclopedias confuse his albums of this period with the albums by
Can't Beat The Kid (Capricorn, 1975) and
John Hammond Solo (Vanguard, 1976) were still in the old style,
regardless of waning interest in his revivalist operation.
Footwork (Vanguard, 1978), a dazzling return to Robert Johnson material and
therefore to his roots,
Hot Tracks (Vanguard, 1979),
Mileage (Rounder, 1980)
and Frogs For Snakes (Rounder, 1982)
re-established his name.
he was largely forgotten again,
recording only Nobody But You (Flying Fish, 1988).
Hammond's career was revitalized one more time with
Trouble No More (Virgin, 1993), that led to a string of successful
(and impeccable) albums:
Found True Love (Virgin, 1996),
Long As I Have You (Virgin, 1998).
Wicked Grin (Virgin, 2001) is a Tom Waits tribute.
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