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Blues - Released July 7, 2008 | Ace Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Blues - Released January 1, 1966 | Geffen*

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Blues - Released January 1, 2007 | Original Blues Classics

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Blues - Released January 1, 1995 | Original Blues Classics

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Blues - Released January 1, 1989 | Craft Recordings

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Blues - Released January 1, 2013 | Geffen*

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Given Hooker's unpredictable timing and piss-poor track record recording with bands, this 1965 one-off session for the jazz label Impulse! would be a recipe for disaster. But with Panama Francis on drums, Milt Hinton on bass, and Barry Galbraith on second guitar, the result is some of the best John Lee Hooker material with a band that you're likely to come across. The other musicians stay in the pocket, never overplaying or trying to get Hooker to make chord changes he has no intention of making. This record should be played for every artist who records with Hooker nowadays, as it's a textbook example of how exactly to back the old master. The most surreal moment occurs when William Wells blows some totally cool trombone on Hooker's version of Berry Gordy's "Money." If you run across this one in a pile of 500 other John Lee Hooker CDs, grab it; it's one of the good ones. © Cub Koda /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | Original Blues Classics

With new John Lee Hooker songs, new versions of old Hooker songs, four duets with and a new song by Van Morrison, Don't Look Back continues the venerable bluesman's string of excellent albums in his '90s renaissance. Produced by Morrison, it also celebrates the 25th anniversary of their first recording together, as Morrison guested on Hooker's seminal Never Get Out of These Blues Alive in 1972. Don't Look Back hits the ground running with a rowdy, thumpin' remake of "Dimples" with Los Lobos; "Spellbound" pounds out more of Hooker's stylistic trademark -- throbbing, raw, hard-driving boogie. The Morrison tracks include the ruminative title cut and his haunting "The Healing Game." Hooker also gives Hendrix's classic blues "Red House" his own rough-hewn, distinctive treatment. © Chris Slawecki /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1971 | EMI - EMI Records (USA)

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Blues - Released January 1, 2007 | Shout Factory Records

John Lee Hooker's recordings for Virgin/Point Blank may have varied in quality, but never in formula. Once The Healer earned reams of praise and, more importantly, solid sales upon its 1989 release, it was pretty much set in stone that every future Hooker album would be painstakingly constructed and boast a plethora of superstar cameos. The guest stars were designed to bring in a larger audience, who would hopefully be impressed enough to stick around for Hooker's solid stuff, which was usually better than the attention-grabbing, star-studded tracks. Of course, the names are what sold, and Virgin did not overlook that fact, choosing to assemble a collection of highlights titled The Best of Friends in 1998. The title refers to the superstar duets, and while this very well may be the best of those cuts -- well, almost all of the duets are here, including both the sublime ("I Cover the Waterfront," with Van Morrison) and the mediocre -- this stuff still isn't as good as Hooker's solo recordings from this era. Which means this disc is primarily for listeners who like to think they like Hooker, but they really just want to hear Eric Clapton wail away. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 27, 2020 | Nostalgic Melody Music Production

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Blues - Released October 6, 2017 | Craft Recordings

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Blues - Released January 1, 1991 | Specialty Records

John Lee Hooker was still churning out R&B-influenced electric blues with a rhythm section for Vee Jay when he recorded The Country Blues of John Lee Hooker, his first album packaged for the folk/traditional blues market. He plays nothing but acoustic guitar, and seems to have selected a repertoire with old-school country-blues in mind. It's unimpressive only within the context of Hooker's body of work; in comparison with other solo outings, the guitar sounds thin, and the approach restrained. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1991 | Fantasy Records

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Blues - Released November 10, 1970 | Tradition Records

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Blues - Released January 1, 1962 | Vee-Jay Records

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Blues - Released January 1, 1998 | Vee-Jay Records

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 here comprise I'm John Lee Hooker, with its 12 tracks 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. Unlike the diluted, pop-oriented blues that first came to prominence in the wake of the British Invasion of the early to mid-'60s, the music on this album is infinitely more authentic in presentation. As the track list indicates, I'm John Lee Hooker includes many of his best-known and best-loved works. Right out of the gate comes the guttural rumble-tumble of "Dimples" in its best-known form; indeed, it can be directly traced to -- and is likewise acknowledged by -- notable purveyors of Brit rock such as Eric Burdon, who incorporated it into the earliest incarnation of the Animals, the Spencer Davis Group, and the decidedly more roots-influenced Duane Allman. Another of Hooker's widely covered signature tunes featured on this volume is "Boogie Chillun." This rendering is arguably the most recognizable in the plethora of versions that have seemingly appeared on every Hooker-related compilation available. Additionally, this version was prominently featured in The Blues Brothers movie as well as countless other films and adverts. Likewise, a seminal solo "Crawlin' King Snake" is included here. The tune became not only a staple of Hooker's, it was also prominently included on the Doors' L.A. Woman and covered by notable bluesmen Albert King, B.B. King, and Big Joe Williams, whose version pre-dates this one by several decades. I'm John Lee Hooker is one of the great blues collections of the post-World War II era. Time has, if anything, only reinforced the significance of the album. It belongs in every blues enthusiast's collection without reservation. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Blues - Released March 31, 2017 | Vee-Jay Records

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Blues - Released January 1, 1971 | Geffen* Records

This 1971 album features John Lee Hooker surrounded -- in some cases, swamped -- by various rock musicians on long, meandering jams that seem to be more showcases for the soloists than for the star of the show. Although Hooker has always had trouble finding bands that could keep up with his idiosyncratic timing, it's not an impossible task, and the musicians on board for this session just seem to be endlessly riffing rather than providing a sympathetic framework for John Lee to work his magic. By the time this session reaches the end, Hooker is far in the background, just letting the band blow, grabbing the paycheck, and scarcely involved. There are lots of John Lee Hooker albums in the bin; pass this one by. © Cub Koda /TiVo
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Blues - Released June 19, 2009 | SPV

John Lee Hooker was an active recording artist for roughly 50 years -- active in that not only did he record steadily, but he actively jumped from label to label, recording for seemingly every label, big or small, from such legendary imprints as Modern, Savoy, Chess, Vee-Jay, Impulse and Riverside, to such smaller outfits as Eagle, Sensation, Staff, Guest Star and Pausa. He started his career cutting sides for singles, later recording proper albums, and all these recordings have been repackaged and reissued in a seemingly endless series of compilations, ranging from budget-line bottom of the barrel discs to first-rate retrospectives, like Rhino's 1991 The Ultimate Collection, but one thing his discography has always lacked was a comprehensive, career-spanning box set, which Shout! Factory's finally provides with their 2006 four-disc set Hooker. Encompassing 84 songs recorded for 27 labels over the course of half a century, Hooker manages to sort through his unwieldy discography with grace and precision, offering all his standards -- beginning with "Boogie Chillen" and "Sally Mae," then running through "Crawlin' King Snake," "I'm in the Mood," "Dimples," "Boom Boom," "It Serves Me Right to Suffer," "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" -- but adding the depth and detail by lingering at relatively lesser-known sides and singles (including songs released under pseudonyms like "Texas Slim" and "John Lee Booker") from every era of his career. And even though Hooker never quite deviated from his signature boogie -- he always bent backing bands to follow his rhythm, as much of the music on this set proves -- he did have different eras in his career, starting with the spooky solo sides in the late '40s and early '50s, which gave way to his early experiments with backing bands, which lead to his dynamic electric work of the '60s, which in turn set the precedent for his collaborations with Canned Heat, which in themselves were the foundation of his comeback of the late '80s and early '90s, where he returned to the spotlight via a series of superstar-studded duets albums. All these phases are represented well on Hooker -- some might argue that the latter duet phase is represented a little too well since the entire fourth disc is devoted to it, but that did span a full decade of recording for Hooker, and it did bring him his highest commercial profile ever -- giving this set a welcome narrative in addition to its sheer comprehensiveness. These are the two most attractive elements of Hooker: it makes sense of his long career and hits virtually all his highlights. Hooker certainly has many excellent individual albums in his catalog, but most listeners could get this set and have all the John Lee Hooker they'll ever need. Which isn't the same thing as saying that Hooker is for everybody. Hooker's boogie is intoxicating, but like strong liquor it may either be addictive or an acquired taste, so it's best for the uninitiated to sample something smaller, like Rhino's 1995 set The Very Best of John Lee Hooker, which has all the essentials in a concentrated dose. For some, that single-disc -- or something similar -- will be all they ever need, since it has the best of the boogie. This set is for the listener who already knows they're a fan, and wants to dig in deep -- and for those listeners, this Hooker will certainly and repeatedly satisfy. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo