Pearl Jam made peace with their hard rock past on their eponymous eighth album, but its 2009 sequel, Backspacer, is where the group really gets back to basics, bringing in old cohort Brendan O'Brien to produce for the first time since 1998's Yield. To a certain extent, the band has reached the point in its career where every move, every cranked amp, every short tough song is heralded as a return to form – call it the Stones syndrome – and so it is with Backspacer, whose meaty riffs have no less vigor than those of Pearl Jam; they're just channeled into a brighter, cheerier package. Despite this lighter spirit, Pearl Jam remain the antithesis of lighthearted good-time rock & roll – they're convinced rock & roll is a calling, not a diversion – but there's a tonal shift from the clenched anger that's marked their music of the new millennium, a transition from the global toward the personal.
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.
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.