Johnny "Hammond" Smith

Good 'Nuff

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Good 'Nuff combines two Smith '60s albums onto one CD: 1962's Johnny Hammond Smith Cooks With Gator Tail (co-billed to tenor saxophonist Willis Jackson) and 1965's The Stinger. "Good 'Nuff" is one of the tracks on Johnny Hammond Smith Cooks With Gator Tail, which is typical early-'60s Prestige soul-jazz, with all the good and bad that implies. The good? It hits a lockstep earthy groove, with funky organ by Smith, smoky sax from Jackson, and some smooth guitar from Eddie McFadden. The bad? Well, it's not bad, really, just predictable. The compositions usually have easygoing, unchallenging bluesy progressions, and the whole thing has the agreeable ambience of a good-time bar where the music fades more into the background the longer it continues. Smith wrote four of the seven songs, the program balanced by Jackson's "Y'All" and covers of "Besame Mucho" and the traditional "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen." "Sonja's Dreamland" goes the furthest into ballad territory, while "Neckbones" swings the hardest. The Stinger, on which Houston Person and Earl Edwards assume the tenor sax duties, is more interesting, with a slightly more gutbucket soul feel, though the title track too strongly recalls Bill Doggett's huge mid-'50s hit "Honky Tonk." "Brother John" sounds like a Ray Charles track without a vocal, and "Cleopatra and the African Knight," as the title indicates, incorporates a convincing tinge of Arabia.

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