John Hammond, Jr.

Source Point/I'm Satisfied

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John Hammond's lifelong fascination with the country blues is well-known, and his passion for it is admirable, even if his approximation of it on his many records is at times a bit of an acquired taste. No one can doubt his fervor for the genre, though, and he has developed over the years into a much less affected vocalist, a solid slide player, and a stirring and excellent harmonica player. This set combines his two albums for Columbia Records, 1970's Source Point and 1972's I'm Satisfied, on a 21-track single disc, and while on paper the two albums wouldn't appear to be good running mates, they actually fit together pretty well. Hammond produced the spare Source Point himself, working with a rhythm section of Charles Otis on drums and Billy Nichols on bass, and manages to get a nice, natural, and slightly swampy sound going, particularly on the lead cut, a cover of Slim Harpo's "I Got Love If You Want It," the haunting "My First Plea," and a ragged, stomping version of the classic "Junco Partner." I'm Satisfied is a more complex affair. Produced by Delaney Bramlett, it features horns, gospel backing vocals, layered guitars, and stacks of keyboards, and has a distinct Southern rock feel. It manages to work much more than it doesn't, and the highlights include the fast shufflin' "Man in the Road" and the impressive "Ride Till I Die (Jockey Blues)." At times Hammond's voice feels almost like an afterthought, but the album was by no means a train wreck. Placed together, the two sessions, although obviously quite different in their angles of approach, share a certain general atmospheric feel, and if neither alone is exactly essential, together they show Hammond willing to try different things, even as the blues stay central in all of it.

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