He was beloved worldwide as the king of the endless boogie, a genuine blues superstar whose droning, hypnotic one-chord grooves were at once both ultra-primitive and timeless. But John Lee Hooker recorded in a great many more styles than that over a career that stretched across more than half a century. "The Hook" was a Mississippi native who became the top gent on the Detroit blues circuit in the years following World War II. The seeds for his eerily mournful guitar sound were planted by his stepfather, Will Moore, while Hooker was in his teens. Hooker had been singing spirituals before that, but the blues took hold and simply wouldn't let go. Overnight visitors left their mark on the youth, too: legends like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, and Blind Blake, who all knew Moore. Hooker heard Memphis calling while…
John Lee Hooker developed a “talking blues” style that became his trademark. Though similar to the early Delta tradition, his metrically free approach and unique sound would make him a staple of Detroit blues. Often called the “King of the Boogie,” Hooker's driving, rhythmic approach to guitar playing has become an integral part of the blues. This quintessential release includes two albums from the beginning of his career: Sings the Blues (Crown 1961) and Sings Blues (King 1960). Although the two records share nearly identical titles, each contains a different and excellent track list. The former LP features great electric numbers such as “Hug and Squeeze (You),” “Good Rockin' Mama,” and “The Syndicate,” while the latter contains Hooker's solo recordings originally issued on the Modern label. Both albums have been remastered and packaged together in this very special collector's edition, which also includes 5 bonus tracks from the same period.
Don't Look Back is an album released by Blues legend John Lee Hooker in 1997 that was produced by Van Morrison, who also performed duets with Hooker on four of the tracks. The album was the Grammy winner in the Best Traditional Blues Album category in 1998. The title duet by Hooker and Morrison also won a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
Although Orrin Keepnews' Riverside Records was primarily a jazz label, the company dabbled in blues in the 1960s – and one of the bluesmen who recorded for Riverside was John Lee Hooker. Recorded in 1960, this Keepnews-produced session came at a time when Hooker was signed to Vee-Jay. The last thing Keepnews wanted to do was emulate Hooker's electric-oriented, very amplified Vee-Jay output, which fared well among rock and R&B audiences. Keepnews had an acoustic country blues vision for the bluesman, and That's My Story favors a raw, stripped-down, bare-bones approach – no electric guitar, no distortion, no singles aimed at rock & rollers.
Endless Boogie is a studio album by John Lee Hooker, released in 1971 through ABC Records. Produced by Bill Szymczyk and Ed Michel, the double album was recorded at Wally Heider Recording with session musicians such as Jesse Ed Davis, Carl Radle, Steve Miller, Gino Skaggs and Mark Naftalin.
John Lee Hooker's greatness lies in his ability to perform the same songs the same way yet somehow sound different and memorable in the process. He operates at maximum efficiency in minimal surroundings with little production or assistance. That was the case on a 1969 session for Black and Blue; it was just Hooker and his guitar moaning, wailing, and narrating on 10 tracks which included familiar ditties "Boogie Chillen," "Love Affair," "Big Boss Lady," and "Cold Chills." Evidence has now not only reissued these 10 but has added another six bonus cuts, bringing the CD total to 16. If you have ever heard any Hooker, you will not be surprised or stunned by these renditions; you will simply enjoy hearing him rework them one more time, finding a new word, phrase, line, or riff to inject.
Hooker was already being hailed as a living legend in the '60s, but by the time of this 1986 release he was a larger-than-life figure, his iconic stature unquestioned. From his earliest collaborations with Canned Heat and on through the '70s and '80s, the rock world never got tired of trying to endear Hooker to a crossover audience. JEALOUS is an attempt to adapt Hooker's lonesome blues to full-band arrangements. Unlike his band recordings of the '50s, though, there's a decided rock edge to his accompaniment here, providing a sharp contrast to the down-home, earthy sound of Hooker's voice and guitar. Organ, electric guitar, and a forceful rhythm section baked in reverb back Hooker on JEALOUS. Instead of overpowering Hooker, though, these new arrangements place the bluesman on a sonic pedestal, from which he sounds like the voice of God dispensing wisdom through the blues.
This four-disc box from London's JSP Records collects an astounding 100 songs recorded by John Lee Hooker in Detroit from the years 1948 to 1952, including his first two sides ever, the signature tunes "Boogie Chillen" and "Sally Mae." Most of the tracks here are done solo, with Hooker's ever-present foot-stomping, although a few feature other musicians on loose-limbed blues boogies. Since Hooker never significantly altered his style during his long career, these first recordings set the stage for all that came after, and he arguably never sounded fresher or better. Four discs worth of this throwback Mississippi bluesman will be severe overkill for casual listeners, but diehard Hooker fans will find this box set absolutely essential.
One of his finest '90s recordings, Chill Out balances the guitar-glitz of Carlos Santana's guest shot on the karmic title cut with a handful of profoundly deep Hooker solo performances. Among those are new versions of his standards "Tupelo" and "Annie Mae," and the soulful "If You've Never Been in Love," where expert slide-man Roy Rogers provides subtle accompaniment to Hooker's spontaneous storytelling. The band numbers that bookend the album are weak, relying on Hooker's strong vocal presence to overcome sketchy writing. Van Morrison, pianist Charles Brown, and M.G.'s leader Booker T. Jones also lend a hand. But Hooker doesn't need anybody's help to get to the passionate heart of his blues. One last note: Anton Corbijn's CD-booklet photographs of ol' Johnny Lee are terrific.
Produced by Hooker's slide guitarist Roy Rogers–who knows what's right for him–this is Hooker's best 1990s effort. Rogers guides him through arrangements that recapture his past glories ("Boom Boom," with guest Jimmie Vaughan), sets him up for a giddy jam with the late Telecaster master Albert Collins ("Boogie at Russian Hill"), and teams him with Charlie Musselwhite for the guitar-voice-harmonica duet "Thought I Heard"–a performance as sad and eerie as disembodied moans in a Delta graveyard. There's also Hooker's first recorded performance on National steel guitar, the solo "Hittin' the Bottle Again". This album gets right to the heart of Hooker's music and stays there. A blues-lover's delight.