Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Percy Mayfield: Poet of the Blues [Specialty, 1992]
Lionized by r&b aficionados who'd rather groove a lounge than rock a joint, Mayfield has the substance operators like Charles Brown and Jesse Belvin made a show of. Compiler Billy Vera might have varied the flow with oddments from the follow-up, Memory Pain. But except for Willie Dixon, widely suspected of exploiting help he didn't talk about, no one on the jumping postwar black pop scene wrote with more brains or care, and he sang with a nicely oiled confidence that never ground against his suave, full arrangements. Not a god for most of us, but a resource--a sufferer who had more to say about suicide than is dreamt of in Metallica's philosophy. A-