Posts Tagged ‘John Lee Hooker’

This 1971 collaboration between primal one-part-delta / one-part-Detroit singer-guitarist John Lee Hooker and southern california blues revivalists Canned Heat works in large part because all parties involved are a little off. Hooker, the most unsystematic of the major bluesmen of his generation, isn’t a good fit for disciplined players; rather, he requires sidemen who play by feel. In harp player-guitarist Alan Wilson, the crawling king snake found a particularly sympathetic foil; sadly, Wilson died shortly after these sessions were completed. roughly divided into spare, gritty delta exercises and full-on boogie stomps featuring the full band, Hooker ‘n’ Heat is surely one of Canned Heat’s crowning moments, which isn’t saying that much. But that it stands as a milestone in Hooker’s oeuvre is quite a statement indeed.

The double-album “Hooker ’N Heat”, which was released on 15th January 1971, is a fascinating meeting of mentor and protégés. Canned Heat had long admired John Lee Hooker and were delighted to find out that the revered blues guitarist-singer also enjoyed the band’s music. “I sure like the way you boys boogie,” Hooker told harmonica player Alan Wilson at a chance meeting in Los Angeles. Canned Heat floated the idea of recording together and, in April 1970, Hooker’s record company gave him permission to do just that. Just one month later they met up at Liberty Records in LA to record the album that was titled Hooker ’N Heat.

That real “Hooker sound”, In deference to Hooker’s genius, the boogie-rock band, who had a global hit with ‘On The Road Again’ in 1967, gave the first half of the album to him alone, and Hooker laid down compelling versions of five of his own compositions: ‘Messin’ With The Hook’, ‘The Feelin’ Is Gone’, ‘Send Me Your Pillow’, ‘Sittin’ Here Thinkin’’ and ‘Meet Me In The Bottom’. Hooker arrived for the recording session wearing a plaid cap, leather jacket, black satin shirt and some old dress slacks. He was carrying his favourite old Epiphone guitar. Producers Skip Taylor and Robert Hite were keen to capture the authentic Hooker blues sound. They tried out eight amplifiers before finding an old Silvertone amp that had that real “Hooker sound”. The engineers built a plywood platform for Hooker to sit on while he played, with one microphone on the amp, one to capture his vocals and a third to pick up his distinctive stomping. Nearby was a large bottle of Chivas Regal Scotch and a pitcher of water to keep him well refreshed.

“The most gifted harmonica player I’ve ever heard” For the second half of Hooker ’N Heat, Wilson joined in on piano, harmonica and guitar. “Blind Owl” Wilson, as he was known, died four months after the record was cut – at just 27 years of age – from a barbiturates overdose. He had suffered from depression and his death robbed the world of “the most gifted harmonica player I’ve ever heard”, as Hooker described him. Hooker ’N Heat captures his wonderful talent for music, including his piano playing on ‘Bottle Up And Go’ (written by the Delta blues musician Tommy McClennan) and ‘The World Today’, and his guitar work on ‘I Got My Eyes On You’.

After more Hooker solo songs, including ‘Alimonia Blues’, ‘Drifter’, ‘You Talk Too Much’ and ‘Burning Hell’, the whole band chimed in for the final songs, with Hooker and Wilson joined by lead guitarist Henry Vestine, bass player Antonio De La Parra and drummer Adolfo De La Parra on exuberant versions of ‘Just You And Me’, ‘Let’s Make It’ and ‘Peavine’. It all soars and moves, even though it seems like the band are sometimes frantically trying to keep up with Hooker’s vocals.

Hooker ’N Heat ended on a high, with a rambling and powerful 11-minute version of Hooker’s first record, the classic ‘Boogie Chillen’’. The song showed just how much fun Canned Heat were having recording with their musical hero, who died in 2001.

After the album came out, Hooker and Canned Heat – who hired guitarist-vocalist Joel Scott Hill to replace Wilson – played some live shows together, including one at New York’s Carnegie Hall. The memorable studio collaboration Hooker ’N Heat captured a natural fusion of empathetic musicians – and Hooker, who was 53 at the time, revelling in the occasion.

Tracks:
“Messin’ With The Hook” | “The Feelin’ Is Gone” | “Send Me Your Pillow” | “Sittin’ Here Thinkin’” | “Meet Me In The Bottom” | “Alimonia Blues” | “Drifter” | “You Talk Too Much” | “Burning Hell” | “Bottle Up And Go” | “The World Today” |  “I Got My Eyes On You” | “Whiskey And Wimmen’” | “Just You And Me” | “Let’s Make It” | “Peavine” | “Boogie Chillen No. 2”

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Known as the “King of the Boogie,” Mississippi-born bluesman John Lee Hooker rose to prominence performing an electric guitar-style adaptation of Delta blues. The hypnotic drone of a guitar tuned to open G, a relentless stomp and an evocative, quavering baritone made up the formula of his signature sound. With these primitive, but powerful ingredients, Hooker inspired generations of rock guitarists, altered the DNA of the blues and became an internationally renowned legend.

Recorded in a single session with drums, bass, second guitar, piano, tenor sax and baritone sax, 1962’s “Burnin’ marked a departure from previous Hooker albums, where he often played with just a guitar and a piece of plywood to pound his foot on. His backing band for this Vee-Jay release includes members of the Funk Brothers, best known for being the Motown Records house band. They do an admirable job of following Hooker, one of the form’s most idiosyncratic players, wherever he leads. The album opens with the single “Boom Boom,” which has become a blues standard over the years. Music critic Charles Shaar Murray called it “the greatest pop song [Hooker] ever wrote.” About the tightest musical structure of any Hooker composition, its verses diligently adhere to the twelve-bar format over which he more often rides roughshod. And the quality doesn’t drop off after the strong opener. Instead, the album provides a cohesive and engaging listening experience that will hold you captive from beginning to end. Pure, 100-proof electric blues.

Thelma”  – This slightly menacing love song rides along on a propulsive horn riff and emotive playing by Motown’s leading pianist, Joe HunterHooker’s assurances that he forgives his cheating lover grow more frenzied and forceful as the song builds, until he’s howling with anguish, keys pounding beneath his voice. It’s heartbreaking and deliciously groovy at the same time. 

“Let’s Make It” – The directness of this uptempo number is intensified through the complete lack of chord changes—one chord, one simple concept—what more do you need? Pianist Joe Hunter once again provides pitch-perfect embellishments that let Hooker’s incantatory song structure shine, and Andrew “Mike” Terry’s baritone sax contributes to the raucous mood. 

Blues Before Sunrise” – John Lee Hooker’s dark voice and moody, haunting ambiance are a perfect fit for this mournful take on the Leroy Carr track. Tormented by a cheating woman, he sways in raw despair. This is a track where you’ll especially appreciate the backing band: plaintive sax, driving drums and especially the boogie-woogie-style piano elevate the proceedings. An absolutely awe-inspiring version.

  • Aaron Thibeaux “T-Bone” Walker, was the pioneer of the electric blues and jump blues sound, gave John Lee Hooker his first electric guitar, an Epiphone.
  • Hooker credited the Beatles, Van Morrison and other U.K. rock bands for helping to popularize the blues, although–of course–they were taking their inspiration from him and his contemporaries like B.B. King and Muddy Waters.
  •  In a 1984 interview with author Bruce Pollock, John confided that he was actually happy when writing blues music: “[People] think you gotta be down and out to write the blues – hungry, broke. It’s not true. I write when I’ve got a good feeling, when I’m happy. When things are going well for you, you write. You have to be in the groove to write. . . . Sometimes you feel something deep down and write it to get it out, get it off your chest. But I cannot write a song when I’m feeling blue. I can’t think when my mind is on my troubles.”
  • Like some other postwar blues singers who became embroiled in legal disputes with their record companies, Hooker recorded for other labels under an array of pseudonyms, including Birmingham Sam and His Magic Guitar, Johnny Lee, Texas Slim and John Lee Cooker, among others.
  • John Lee Hooker often felt his music so deeply, it would bring him to tears. In fact, this is the reason why Wayfarer sunglasses became a signature part of his onstage look.

Listen to Burnin’ in its entirety on your preferred streaming platform or shop our John Lee Hooker vinyl collection below.

John Lee Hooker was an influential blues singer which gain recognition by developing his own rhythm boogie style. Don’t Turn Me From Your Door is one of the many compilations that appeared and it’s a release that is full of his incredible and raw blues guitar play and recognizable voice.  It isn’t the Hooker album with all his signature songs, but on this one you’ll hear the true quality of a gifted person.  

The Grammy award winner John Lee Hooker grew up in 1920s Mississippi delta. The surroundings and tough working conditions influenced his song-writing style and the subjects he sang about. After his dead in 2003 the legend lives on, his music can be heard in films, tv-shows and have been sampled by different artists.

  • 180 gram audiophile vinyl
  • Mono recording

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This new reissued Collector’s Edition includes Bonus Disc of Unreleased Material (17 minute jam of Rock Steady plus 3 new Rock Steady remixes) and brand new Cover Painting by John Rummen. Recorded at the Rising Sun Celebrity Jazz Club in Montreal, Quebec, on May 5th, 1977. “Black Night Is Falling” finds John Lee Hooker in fine voice and backed by a driving band composed of John Garcia on guitar, Steve Jones on bass, and Larry ‘Wild Man’ Martin on drums, with the end result being an excellent example of Hooker at his best.

Highlights include impressive romps through Hooker’s signature tunes, Boom Boom, which simply blazes with raw energy here, and One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer, which is delivered as a wonderfully paced barroom cautionary tale. This is what the live Hooker sounded like with a sympathetic band behind him, a band that luckily wasn’t afraid to push him a little.

“Black Night is Falling” Just A Memory Records

A song written by American Blues legend and guitarist JOHN LEE HOOKER recorded in 1961 the song became not just a hit on the R’N’B charts but in the pop charts too, recorded by many Blues and other artists. It became a huge hit for THE ANIMALS in 1965 recorded for their debut album. There are several wordless phrases How,How,How,How. and Hmm,Hmm,Hmm,Hmm. Thirty years after Hooker’s release it was taken up by Lee Jeans for a Commercial in 1992.