For forty-four years John Hammond has been an ambassador of the Blues, not because he ever wanted that role, but because of his passion for the music that began when he first saw Jimmy Reed perform in NYC in 1957. Hammond, whose estranged father produced and represented some of the greatest recording artists and songwriters in the 20th century, was born to an awesome legacy. Of all the music that ran through his home growing up, what captured his soul most was the Blues.
Now, with such a strong musical legacy, the ability to produce any kind of album Hammond would like to put together, he reaches out to “G. Love”, a Philly hip-hop artist to produce some good ole, low-down Blues. At least that’s how things start out until track five, Sonny Thompson’s “I’m Tore Down”, when things get a bit rocky and hip-hoppy. But for the most part the songs stay on point with the Blues.
There’s an interesting make-up of writers on this album including Dan Hicks, Tom Waits, Little Walter and Junior Wells in addition to Hammond himself. And other than “I’m Tore Down” and “Eyes Behind Your Head”, Hammond’s own St. Louis-styled, sophisticated Blues ode to cheatin’, the songs are very cohesive and flow very naturally like a strong set at a Blues club in the Village. In fact it’s difficult to tell that there are different writers on this album with Hammond’s original material sounding more like the original Blues masters than the masters themselves. After all, Hammond is a Blues Master and “Push Comes to Shove” only makes a greater case for it.
One of the nicest things about this album is that it makes Hammond and his band very accessible. Making up his band is Stephen Hodges on drums, Marty Ballou on bass, Bruce Katz on keys. G. Love occasionally adds guitar and John sings, plays guitars and electric harp on the tracks. My favorite track on the CD is the Hammond-penned, “Take This Fools Advice”, a throw-back to Muddy Waters with the smoky and scary feelin’ of the Chicago Blues.
“Push Comes to Shove” is a worthy addition to the collection and a must for those diehard Blues fans looking for more of what they enjoy.
About the author: Dave Glynn, frontman for the Empty Can Band found at www.EmptyCanBand.com, regularly writes reviews for BadDogBlues.com and MNBlues.com.