Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Recyclables

MASTERS OF THE BOOGIE PIANO
Delmark

FOR JUMPERS ONLY!
Delmark

It's hard not to love Delmark Records, the blues ur-indie founded by retailer Bob Koester in 1953, which continues to expand a sizable catalog dominated by blues and jazz musicians from sweet home Chicago. Koester encouraged the Art Ensemble nexus and underwrote Junior Wells and Buddy Guy's definitive young Hoodoo Man Blues. And although his open-door policy favors journeymen suitable only for fans, boosters, and genre specialists, he also makes a practice of rescuing masters abandoned by less astute or stubborn small businessmen. The multi-artist comps in his $8-list Saver Series are as haphazard chronologically and a&r-wise as the most arbitrary Rough Guide--West Side Chicago Blues stockyard raw, Blues From Up the Country doddering with coots. But both For Jumpers Only! and Masters of the Boogie Piano are valuable samplers of two poorly collected styles. Rather than long workouts, the jump blues are three-minute songs designed for jukebox play by names famous, obscure, and inappropriate, and will gratify instantly or come too quick depending on your prejudices. The piano collection is the prize: fist-fingered old pros, lightning revivalists, and a surprise vocal highlight by Roosevelt Sykes as well as one track each by Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis, and Pete Johnson and a finale by the entire triumvirate.

Village Voice, Mar. 9, 2004


Jan. 27, 2004 Apr. 13, 2004