Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Skip James: Blues from the Delta [Vanguard, 1998]
James isn't all he's cracked up to be, especially in the '60s. If the catwalking guitar line of "I'm So Glad" could still give Eric Clapton penis envy, his piano had lost its atonal abandon; if the song he wrote for his D.C. M.D. has God in it, "Careless Love" is barely filler. But always carrying the music is a tenuous falsetto that's been through a lot of bad medicine, a voice that's looked at death from both sides now and done what it could to aestheticize the terror. A-