John Hammond, Ready For Love

By Jerome Mazandarani

Ready For Love is John Hammond’s 29th solo album, and once again, he is in fine form. On this occasion the legendary delta bluesman is backed up by long-term collaborator David Hidalgo in the producer’s chair.

Hammond’s outstanding 2001 release, Wicked Grin, was an unusual piece of work, written and produced entirely by long-time friend and contemporary,Tom Waits. Perhaps Hammond was afraid of repeating himself because “Ready For Love” only features two Waits numbers, “Gin Soaked Boy” and “Low Side of the Road.”

Hammond revels in Waits’ robust style of kitchen-sink blues. In fact, the whole album has a dusty, woozy, home brew vibe to it. Other highlights include a stomping juke-joint cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Spider and the Fly,” as well as contributions from Jesse Stone, Freddie Hart, and Willie Dixon.

“Slick Crown Vic,” the album’s opener, is the only solo penned tune included, and it is also one of the album’s weakest moments, but that isn’t the point.

Ready For Love preserves the romantic tradition of the traveling troubadour. Like Homer before him, he trades in stories, some of his own, but many more gathered during his time on the road. There are tales of infidelity, heartbreak, hardship, graft and alcoholic stupor. John Hammond continues to carry the flame for the great traveling bluesmen, and unlike some of his peers, this rolling stone doesn’t appear to be gathering any moss.

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