Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

David Bromberg: The Blues, the Whole Blues, and Nothing but the Blues [Red House, 2016]
In the year the Rolling Stones capitalized their franchise on the cheap by mining the blues of their youth, who'd have guessed they'd get smoked by this equally ancient folk muso? Yet it's no contest. Where the one remake Mick and the boys shine up a little is Little Johnny Taylor's near-soul 1971 "Everybody Knows About My Good Thing," Bromberg leads a livelier band through a set that kills the same the-postman-told-me shtick. Prone as a young hippie to the fallacy that blues was a music of old men on porches, now he digs into these lyrics as the sexually insecure cuckold he can evoke as Sonny Boy Williamson and Bobby Bland could not, adding a nerdy comedy routine to Bessie Smith's "You've Been a Good Ole Wagon" and showcasing the belated debut of the pathetic "How Come My Bulldog Don't Bark When You Come 'Round," which he learned long ago from a lead sheet whose composer was too embarrassed to put his name on it. In real life, meanwhile, Bromberg has long been married to musician Nancy Josephson. They own a violin store in Wilmington, Delaware, where she's made a name for herself creating vodou-influenced beaded objects in a nearby studio. Ain't love grand? And let's hear it for art, too. A-