Home Read Classic Album Review: John Hammond | Wicked Grin

Classic Album Review: John Hammond | Wicked Grin

The singer-guitarist’s Tom Waits tribute gets a big assist from the man himself.

This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


There have been plenty of Tom Waits tribute CDs. But Wicked Grin, singer-guitarist John Hammond’s bluesy new set of Waits covers, comes with the highest endorsement — that of the old nighthawk himself.

Tom not only produces this bluesy 13-track tribute, he gets right in there and gets his hands dirty, playing guitar or piano on nearly every track, from older chestnuts like Heartattack and Vine to recent fare like Get Behind the Mule. At times, listening to Waits’ distinctive, stabbing guitar mixed in with Hammond’s smooth voice and Delta-based arrangements makes for a curious effect — like watching Tom co-star in a TV-movie of his own life. But it sure does make Wicked Grin one of the more authentic Waits tributes around. Not to mention the closest thing to a new album we’re likely to hear for some time.

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