Tuesday, April 10, 2012

John Lee Hooker

Now it's time to gather together all my  John Lee Hooker cassettes
Firstly, ..I had no idea that Beat Goes On even released cassettes..
Their CD issue of this album is chopped  with 3 or 4 songs cut out (the original album has 11 , I think.. Seems the cassette is just like the BGO cd, with only 7 tracks..Ah well, although it's a good album, 70 minutes of all "A' chord boogie is a bit much .. it *is* called "endless" boogie ;-)

This next one was a pleasant surprise for me..
I am *Very* wary of eastern and third world cassettes.. in my experience, most of them are blatant counterfeits, on made up record labels with no official licensing agreement between them and the original label.. I tend to stick to UK, Italy, Germany, and N. America , although the's not to say other countries aren't entirely legit.. they may have strange labeling practices though.
I often see Thailand cassettes for sale, and the variety of OOP albums that haven't been issued elsewhere is astounding. I have never bought one however, as I thought they might be like the Polish or Saudi ones, which i do not like.
Well, I got one by mistake, and if the rest are like this, i'll include Thailand as a source of quality rare  cassettes.
Clearly officially sanctioned, the print, tape, and cassette housing are all up to standards..
Plus this is an album I just do *not* see elsewhere on cassette!
John Lee Hooker's 1967 Bluesway album Urban Blues.. 
I'll have to say the same thing about this next one, a Turkish release..seems a good quality all round, and official release too..


This next one,, well "rare" doesn't even begin to describe it..
It was a still sealed when I got it, a1968 AMPEX John Lee Hooker Belgian issue of an already rare President records release  .. they only made a few hundred in the first place 44 years ago - I don't think there's more than 2 or 3 still in existence.. and mine's MINT!
Gotta love that..
These Next two Vee-Jay albums are real classics.. I had no idea they were available on cassette either.. but here they are:


A third reissue of one of his Veejay albums
He's got a fewgood sounding "Tomato" albums, too..
Here's one of them..

 I wonder If he would've named his hit "Boom Boom" if he'd have known he'd have over 20 albums with that title ;-).. Here's two of them, one with the old Veejay tracks .. and one of his newer albums.. Both cook.. "We are cooking now" was one of his all time fave lines...

.
 Some very raw and rough stuff that somehow ended up on Atlantic.. below:
The Healer.. was a breakthrough album for John Lee.. after years of not recording.. he had a hit on his hands,, Lots of guest stars on this one.. a pattern He would continue till the end:
Here's a real rare bird.. an actual "Specialty" cassette,  first released in a very limited issue in 1970, and reissued in just as limited a fashion here..
Hailing from the same period, were his early Chess tracks, on these early ones he didn't so much record "for" Chess, or Specialty, or Atlantic, but rather, these companies  *bought* "sides" from Modern records, who owned most of the early 1948- 54 masters, and issued them on their respective labels



By the Mid 60's though, Hooker was without a contract, Veejay having gotten into serious financial trouble, and for at least a couple of sessions, Chess took him in.. although his second guitar of was still Eddie Burns, who had played with him on many of his early 50's recordings, Chess supplied a full (if unknown, to this day) backing band..
The results were better than expected.. it  (along with "More Folk Blues') was an electric Hooker classic, that was very influential in the UK.. unfortunately, I have been unable to find a copy of "More Folk Blues".. yet it used to be relatively easy to find..
That this Chess series was called Real Folk blues.. when it was electric full band recordings all the way,  threw a curve ball to many.. Besides Hooker, there were "Real Folk Blues" for Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Little Walter, and many more.. none of whom  strayed far from amplified Blues!
After these chess tracks, John Lee Hooker got picked up by the well established ABC Paramount organization, on their new "Bluesway" subsidiary..
I think the general idea was to pair JLH with the more established , and sometimes better known players of the day.. Two of his albums from those sessions have already been listed above (Urban Blues and Endless Boogie), but he released several more.. (If you want 'im you Got 'Im, Simply the Truth, live at the Cafe au Go-Go, and more..)
Some of these tracks came out in reordered form, at the same time, on other albums.. these necxt two are examples of that.. containing tracks from 1967 to 1972:



As John Lee became more successful, Stax, who somehow had obtained the rights to some of his earlier pre-Chess sides with Eddie Burns attempted to diversify, by releasing them on the 'hip' sounding "That's Where It's At".. odder bedfellas you can't imagine.. the raw countryish "I wants t'mm Boogie Chillen" of John Lee's, with the suave "I Am Some Body" uptown soul of, say , Johnny Taylor..
It .. er..didn't work.. although at that point, Stax was hemorrhaging money so fast that likely nothing could have saved the label...
A completely different approach was taken by the UK based Charly R&B.. where they would search for the most representative tracks of any 1st generation USA bluesmen, and place them in the best possible quality, with extensive liner notes.. Especially since this was during the very dry spell, musically, of the mid 80's, these were highly sought after recordings..
Here's a good one:
Here's a slightly different , 1990's version ..

Lastly, for now, is a  recent anniversary retrospective that covers his Vee-Jay years
And Here's the album that started his "Comeback".. and introduction to 
 the younger 80's generation....
And that's it for now...

No comments:

Post a Comment