Thursday, November 24, 2022

John Hammond & The Nighthawks: Hot Tracks 1979


Renowned Blues artist and Grammy winner John Hammond was inducted into The Blues Hall Of Fame in 2011. With a career coming up on 60 years, he has played with John Lee Hooker, Eric Clapton,

Jimi Hendrix, Tom Waits, Duane Allman, The Band, J.J. Cale, Dr. John, Mike Bloomfield, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Charlie Musselwhite.
He’s the only person to have Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix in his band at the same time. His 1963 album John Hammond was one of the first Blues albums made by a white artist. He provided the soundtrack to the 1970 movie Little Big Man starring Dustin Hoffman. In 1991 he hosted the documentary The Search For Robert Johnson.

John Hammond, Jr. is one of a handful of white blues musicians who was on the scene at the beginning

of the first blues renaissance of the mid-'60s. That revival, brought on by renewed interest in folk music around the U.S., brought about career boosts for many of the great classic blues players, including Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, and Skip James. Some critics have described Hammond as a white Robert Johnson, and Hammond does justice to classic blues by combining powerful guitar and harmonica playing with expressive vocals and a dignified stage presence.

Hammond is a son of record producer and talent scout John H. Hammond and his first wife, Jemison McBride, an actress. He is a descendant of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the patriarch of the prominent

Vanderbilt family, through his paternal grandmother Emily Vanderbilt Sloane Hammond. He has a brother, Jason, and a stepsister, (Esme) Rosita Sarnoff, the daughter of his father's second wife, Esme O'Brien Sarnoff. Hammond's middle name, Paul, is in honor of a friend of his father, the actor Paul Robeson. The younger Hammond was raised by his mother and saw his father only a few times a year while growing up.

Within the first decade of his career as a performer, Hammond began crafting a niche for himself that is

completely his own: the solo guitar man, harmonica slung in a rack around his neck, reinterpreting classic blues songs from the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. Yet, as several of his mid-'90s recordings for the Point Blank label demonstrate, he's also a capable bandleader who plays wonderful electric guitar. This guitar-playing and ensemble work can be heard on Found True Love and Got Love If You Want It, both for the Point Blank/Virgin label.

Born November 13, 1942, in New York City, the son of the famous Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond, Sr., what most people don't know is that Hammond didn't grow up with his father. His

parents split when he was young, and he would see his father several times a year. He first began playing guitar while attending a private high school, and he was particularly fascinated with slide guitar technique. He saw his idol, Jimmy Reed, perform at New York's Apollo Theater, and he's never been the same since. Hammond usually plays acoustically, choosing National Reso-Phonic Guitars, and sings in a barrelhouse style. Since 1962, when he made his debut on Vanguard Records, he has made thirty-four albums. In the 1990s he began recording on the Point Blank Records label.

In September of 1979, John Hammond went into Vanguard Records' 23rd Street Studio in New York with the Nighthawks -- Jimmy Thackeray, guitar; Mark Wenner, harmonica; Jan Zukowski, bass; Pete

Ragusa, drums -- and cut this record, one of his best (and which might've sold better with maybe some better cover art). The sounds are alternately hot and soulful on the ten-song collection, featuring covers of songs by Little Walter ("You Better Watch Yourself," "Last Night"), Chuck Berry ("Nadine"), Jimmy Reed ("Caress Me Baby," one of Hammond's slowest, most seductive numbers), and Robert Johnson ("Sweet Home Chicago").

Highlights include a stunningly beautiful rendition of Howlin' Wolf's "Who's Been Talkin'," a wailing reconsideration of John Lee Hooker's "Sugar Mama" with a really searing guitar break, a very powerful

version of "Howlin' for My Darling," and even the best cover of Dixon's "Pretty Thing" this side of Bo Diddley himself, where Hammond and company manage to be raunchy and smooth at the same time. Nothing's going to make anyone forget Walter, Wolf, or Willie, but this isn't a bad way to spend 40 minutes, especially given the really crunchy guitar sound achieved by Jeff Zaraya and the uncredited producer. A real diamond in the rough, and one of Hammond's best albums.

John Hammond And The Nighthawks – Hot Tracks
Label: Vanguard – VCD 79424-2
Format:    CD, Album, Reissue
Country: Germany
Released: 1979   
Genre: Blues
Style: Modern Electric Blues



01. Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut   3:17
(Written-By – Ellas McDaniel)
02. Who's Been Talkin'   2:46
(Written-By – Chester Burnett)
03. Sugar Mama   3:23
(Written-By – John Lee Hooker)
04. Howling For My Darling   3:27
(Written-By – Chester Burnett, Willie Dixon)
05. You Better Watch Yourself   2:19
(Written-By – Walter Jacobs)
06. Pretty Thing   3:01
(Written-By – Willie Dixon)
07. Caress Me Baby   3:04
(Written-By – Jimmy Reed)
08. Nadine   3:44
(Written-By – Chuck Berry)
09. Last Night   3:07
(Written-By – Walter Jacobs)
10. Sweet Home Chicago   4:26
(Written-By – Robert Johnson)

Bass – Jan Zukowski
Drums – Pete Ragusa
Engineer – Jeff Zaraya
Guitar – Jimmy Thackeray
Harmonica [Mouth Harp] – Mark Wenner
Vocals, Guitar – John Hammond

MP3 @ 320 Size: 78 MB
Flac  Size: 191 MB


  1. I bought and listened to this a few days ago thank your tip. Big blues.
    Something we have in common again, the love for the blues.

    1. Yes Yes Yes my friend. Both we love the blues.

  2. The Trojan is in your fucking head. Idiot!

  3. Great bluesman indeed! I love the blues too.