Best Of The Vanguard Years John Hammond


Catalogue Id:
VCD 79555

With a career that spans more than four decades, John Hammond is one of a few white blues musicians who was on the scene at the beginning of the blues renaissance during the mid-60s. That revival, instigated by a renewed interest in folk music in the US, thrust many great classic blues players, such Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis and Skip James, into the limelight. Critics have described Hammond as a white Robert Johnson, as Hammond's treatment of classic blues combines powerful guitar and harmonica playing with expressive vocals.

Born 13 November, 1942, in New York City, the son of the famous Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond, Sr, most people don't know that young Hammond didn't grow up with his father. His parents split when he was young. He first began playing guitar while attending a private high school. He was particularly fascinated with slide guitar technique, and when he saw his idol, Jimmy Reed, perform at New York's Apollo Theatre, his life and ambitions reached a major turning point.

Within the first decade of his career as a performer, Hammond began crafting a niche for himself that is completely his own: the solo guitar man, harmonica slung in a rack around his neck, reinterpreting classic blues songs from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. He has recorded 11 albums for the Vanguard label, as well as a number on other labels such as Virgin, Atlantic, Columbia and Rounder.

His debut for Vanguard is considered an ideal starting point, however, this month Vanguard releases a 20-bit remastered 23-track overview of Hammond's early recordings for the label. His performances gain confidence and maturity as this compilation chronologically moves on, from the rough-edged enthusiasm of the opener, 32-20 Blues, to the closing Guitar King.

Six of the tracks are from the So Many Roads album that featured Mike Bloomfield. Charlie Musselwhite and members of the Band are in the line up. In addition, Ask Me Nice and Hellbound Blues are previously unreleased, having been discovered on an unmarked reel of tape.


Track listing


Side 1

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