- Personnel: John Hammond (vocals, acoustic slide guitar, guitar, harmonica, handclaps); Tom Waits (vocals, guitar, plucked piano, handclaps); Charlie Musselwhite (harp); Augie Meyers (accordion, piano, electric piano, Wurlitzer, Hammond organ); Larry Taylor (bass); Stephen Hodges (drums, percussion, handclaps); Gene Cornelius, Oz Fritz, Ralph Patlan (handclaps).
- Recorded at Prairie Sun Recording Studios, Cotati, California and Alpha & Omega Studios, San Rafael, California. Includes liner notes by T-Bone Burnett.
- Personnel: Tom Waits (guitar, hand claps); Charlie Musselwhite (harp); Augie Meyers (accordion, piano, electric piano, Wurlitzer organ, hand claps); Stephen Hodges (drums, hand claps, percussion); Gene Cornelius, Oz Fritz, Ralph Patlan (hand claps).
- Audio Mixer: Oz Fritz.
- Liner Note Author: T-Bone Burnett.
- Recording information: Alpha & Omega Studios, San Rafael, CA; Parairie Sun Recording Studios, Cotati, CA.
- Photographer: Jay Blakesberg.
- For WICKED GRIN, John Hammond takes a break from interpreting the likes of Sleepy John Estes and Blind Lemon Jefferson to have a go at the canon of good friend Tom Waits. Further authenticating this project is Waits's involvement as producer and musician. Rounding out the cast on this impressive project are Sir Douglas Quintet keyboardist Augie Meyers, harp legend Charlie Musselwhite, Canned Heat's Larry Taylor, and Fabulous Thunderbird Stephen Hodges on skins.
- Turning to albums like RAIN DOGS, SWORDFISHTROMBONES, and BONE MACHINE for source material, Hammond used his pliable baritone and tasty fretwork to inhabit the characters and seedy scenarios of these songs. Druggies and prostitutes come to life in the 12-bar blues dirge that is "Heart Attack and Vine," while the image of homesick sailor in a foreign port is teased out with an economically played Vox organ throughout "Shore Leave." Elsewhere, Hammond and company make like Los Super Seven on the norteno-flavored "Jockey Full Of Bourbon," with Meyers and his squeezebox making like Flaco Jimenez. The only non-Waits song included is "I Know I've Been Changed," an album-ending traditional gospel number turned into a field holler by Waits's shredded growl and Hammond's soulful howl.
Rolling Stone (4/12/01, p.142) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...A splendidly untraditional traditional-blues album....sounding like a worthy companion to Bob Dylan's TIME OUT OF MIND....The 2 new Tom Waits songs are knockouts..."
Q (5/01, p.110) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...A genuine revelation...Hammond savors every last low-life syllable of every spiked boho-spiel with top-dollar back-up....A rambunctious joy from beginning to end..."
CMJ (3/12/01, p.28) - "...Hammond doesn't try to reinvent Waits' mule-boned wheel onthese 13 tunes, slathering on some extra greas licks here and there, but largely honoring the style of the originals performances..."
JazzTimes (5/01, pp.117-8) - "...A potent brew and a great synthesis of 2 unique artists..."
No Depression (5-6/01, p.123) - "...This veteran blues revivalist has a strong, vibrant tenor that gives these melodies a clarity and warmth Waits could never have produced..."
Mojo (Publisher) (4/01, p.114) - "...The arrangememts have all the care-worn beauty you'd expect and, vocally, Hammond's classy singlemalt proves just as satisfying as Waits' rough-assed moonshine..."