Howlin' Wolf may be gone, but his spirit lives on, as this 13-track tribute album featuring members of the Wolf's own band attests. Sam Lay, Eddie Shaw, Hubert Sumlin, and the rest are as tight and smooth as they ever were playing behind Howlin' Wolf, and they've got an array of guest stars to do the Wolf proud. Taj Mahal (sounding a good bit like Wolf himself) is here, as are guitar-slinger Debbie Davies and multi-instrumentalist Kenny Neal. Lucinda Williams does a bluesy turn, and there are contributions from Lucky Peterson, James Cotton, and more. The CD features plenty of Wolf favorites, including "Saddle My Pony," "Howlin' for My Darling," "The Red Rooster," "Howlin' Wolf Boogie," and "Smokestack Lightnin'," among others. All in all, it's a fitting tribute to a man whose contribution to the blues is immeasurable.
Chester Arthur Burnett, known as Howlin' Wolf, was a Chicago blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player, originally from Mississippi. With a booming voice and looming physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists. Musician and critic Cub Koda noted, "no one could match Howlin' Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits." Producer Sam Phillips recalled, "When I heard Howlin' Wolf, I said, 'This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies'". Several of his songs, including "Smokestack Lightnin'", "Back Door Man", "Killing Floor" and "Spoonful", have become blues and blues rock standards. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 51 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time."
Where Chess' two-volume Muddy Waters anthology His Best was divided according to chronological guidelines, the Howlin' Wolf series of the same name follows a different pattern. His Best, Vol. 1 contained all of the Wolf's best-known songs – as if the label never planned a sequel. Consequently, when it came time to assemble Vol. 2, they had two major items ("The Natchez Burning," "Down in the Bottom") that didn't make the first cut, a take of "The Red Rooster" with dialogue, plus a host of songs familiar to Wolf fans, but not casual blues fans. Since Chester Burnett was one of the greatest bluesmen in history, these second-tier songs aren't castoffs – they're forgotten or unappreciated classics. They might not be as monumental as the songs on His Best, Vol. 1, yet they're great songs, making His Best, Vol. 2 an excellent complement to its essential predecessor.
A comprehensive collection of Wolf's early years. The songs on this set dating from 1951-1958, sum up the first half of Wolf's recording career with Chess Records, a period when he sung mostly self-penned compositions. The lead track 'Smokestack Lightnin'' is probably the most covered, being recorded by the Animals and Yardbirds among others. All tracks have been digitally remastered for optimum sound quality.
The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions is an album by blues musician Howlin' Wolf, released in the summer of 1971 on Chess Records. It was one of the first of the super session blues albums, setting a blues master among famous musicians from the second generation of rock and roll, in this case Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wyman. It peaked at #79 on the Billboard 200.