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At the Crossroads


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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: John Hammond (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Billy Butler, James Spruill (electric guitar); Robbie Robertson (guitar); Charlie Musselwhite (harmonica); Mike Bloomfield (piano); Garth Hudson (Hammond B-3 organ); Jimmy Lewis (electric bass); Bobby Donaldson, Levon Helm (drums); The Nighthawks.
  • Recorded between 1964 & 1989. Includes liner notes by Bruce Winkworth.
  • AT THE CROSSROADS is the moving tribute to American blues legend Robert Johnson, which includes appearances by the Band and the Hawks, among others.
  • 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.
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