Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Joe Houston

  • Cornbread and Cabbage Greens [Specialty, 1992] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Cornbread and Cabbage Greens [Specialty, 1992]
These 26 titles were cut some 40 years ago for three related L.A. indies by a Texas honker with one major national r&b hit--"Worry Worry Worry," not included here or ever heard by me, although I bet "Troubles and Worries" is close enough. Many were recorded in identical versions with equally anonymous sidemen for yet other L.A. indies, and only six were released. Yet I feel as if I've been waiting for this collection all my life. Sax reissues by the likes of Illinois Jacquet and Arnett Cobb retain a veneer of structural respectability, just like the official singles here--they're never all-out all-out. But at its best--which despite the fine thick raunch of the slow blues usually means its fastest, from famous flag-wavers like "Flying Home" and "Lester Leaps In" to prototypical jams like "Richie's Roll" and "Coastin'"--most of this sounds as if the engineer is holding the mike stand parallel to the floor because Houston is flat on his back. Until somebody puts "Honky Tonk," "Slow Walk," and "Walking With Mr. Lee" on one record, this will be how I explain rock and roll saxophone. A-