Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Release the Hound

Live ramble from the Chicago wildman

"When I die, they'll say, 'He couldn't play shit, but he sure made it sound good.'" Thus spake Chicago slide guitarist unextraordinaire Hound Dog Taylor. In a recording career that began in 1971 when he was 55 and was ended by cancer four years later, Taylor's trio pioneered a genre: the house-rocking blues of dozens of forgettable bar bands. You remember Taylor because no one except his friend in heaven, Johnny Thunders, ever played dirtier or fuzzier--and also because he came so easily by a good-time spirit that others bust their guts simulating. While most of these painstakingly exhumed titles are available in other versions, only one is on his previous live album--the format his rude art was made for.

Blender, Aug. 2004