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 the Detroit blues tradition. Often called the “King of the Boogie,” Hooker's driving, rhythmic approach to guitar playing has become an integral part of the blues. His thunderous electric guitar sounded raw, while his basic technique was riveting.
Winding through the literally hundreds of titles in John Lee Hooker's catalog is a daunting task for even the most seasoned and learned blues connoisseur. This is especially true when considering Hooker recorded under more than a dozen aliases for as many labels during the late '40s, '50s, and early '60s. I'm John Lee Hooker was first issued in 1959 during his tenure with Vee Jay and is "the Hook" in his element as well as prime. Although many of these titles were initially cut for Los Angeles-based Modern Records in the early '50s, the recordings heard here are said to best reflect Hooker's often-emulated straight-ahead primitive Detroit and Chicago blues styles. The sessions comprising the original 12-track album – as well as the four bonus tracks on the 1998 Charly CD reissue – are taken from six sessions spread over the course of four years (1955-1959). Hooker works both solo – accompanied only by his own percussive guitar and the solid backbeat of his foot rhythmically pulsating against plywood – as well as in several different small-combo settings.
In 1959, John Lee Hooker signed a one-off deal with the Riverside label to record an acoustic session of the country blues. It was a key change from his earlier recordings, most of which had featured Hooker on an electric guitar with his trademark reverb and stomping foot. Folk purists of the day were delighted with COUNTRY BLUES, believing Hooker had returned to his roots, leaving the "glitzy commercialism" of R&B behind. But some Hooker fans considered COUNTRY BLUES a "betrayal" of his true sound. The truth is probably somewhere in-between. Remember, John Lee Hooker is always John Lee Hooker, regardless of the format. If you like Hooker, or acoustic blues, buy this album. It is an intimate session featuring standards like "How Long", "Bottle Up and Go", as well as Hooker's first recorded take on "Tupelo", one of his all-time classics.
This quintessential release presents one of Hooker's most difficult to find albums: Burning Hell. Recorded in Detroit in April 1959, the Riverside label only originally issued the LP in England. A country-blues classic, John Lee Hooker only plays acoustic guitar throughout the album, and sings straight to the bone with his soul drenched vocal delivery. Highlights include songs associated with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Big Bill Broonzy, as well as a number of Hooker's own finest compositions. In addition to the original masterpiece, this remastered CD also contains 8 bonus tracks, including a number of solo recordings taped in different locations between 1952 and 1961.
This release presents one of John Lee Hooker's finest albums, The Big Soul of John Lee Hooker. It was recorded in 1962 and released by Vee-Jay Records. Here the bluesman explores the soul and R&B sounds of the early ‘60s, while maintaining the essence of his own boogieblues style. His gritty voice is as heavily emotive and unshakable as ever on these recordings. Hooker is backed by the seed of one of the most successful studio bands of all time, which would later be known as The Funk Brothers (the Motown studio band), as well as by a wonderful female backing vocal group. In addition to the original masterpiece, this remastered collector's edition also contains 10 bonus tracks from the same period, and constitutes one of the peaks of John Lee Hooker's incomparable musical legacy.
Two classic Hooker LPs, all digitally re-mastered, 22 solid slabs of dark, leathery, brooding nostalgia. This is the electric blues at its very roots. If there’s still anyone out there reading this magazine who hasn’t at least one Hooker album in their collection, then you’re still a long way from qualifying as a blues aficionado. So this is a good place to start. This stripped-bare, one man and a growling electric guitar (on most tracks) music is the stuff those guys who fled the south for the auto production lines in the north used to listen to.
This Soul Jam release presents one of Hooker's most difficult to find albums on CD, the eponymous John Lee Hooker. It was originally released in 1962 by the Fantasy Records' subsidiary Galaxy label. The album includes a selection of hard-to-find recordings taped with his electric guitar during different sessions in the 1950s, all of them produced by Bernard Besman, the man who helped define Hooker's recorded sound, which has often relied upon heavy walking beats, boogies, and an eerie atmosphere. In addition to the original masterpiece, this remastered collector's edition also contains 8 bonus tracks from the same period.
BGO Records has released two early ‘70s albums by the legendary John Lee Hooker. While admittedly not his best albums, they both still show this man did more than play the blues, he lived them. On these offerings, Hooker pumped out a slow moving steam engine of blues music that never picks up too much speed, yet keeps things chooglin’ along just fine.
Hooker 'n Heat is a double album released by blues legend John Lee Hooker and blues-rock band Canned Heat in early 1971. It was the last studio album to feature harmonica player, guitarist and songwriter Alan Wilson, who died in September 1970 from a drug overdose. The photo on the album cover was taken after Wilson's death, but his picture can be seen in a frame on the wall behind John Lee Hooker. Guitarist Henry Vestine was also missing from the photo session. The person standing in front of the window, filling in for Henry, is the band's manager, Skip Taylor. Careful examination of the photo reveals that Henry's face was later added by the art department. It was the first of Hooker's albums to chart, reaching number 78 in the Billboard charts.