Tuesday, 10 February 2009

“The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues” by JOHN LEE HOOKER. A Review of the 2002 Universal CD Reissue.

“Hey Mister Bartender…Come Here…”

This Universal CD out of the USA on MCA-Chess 088 112- 821-2 reissues two stunning albums from the mighty Hook at the height of his blues power. It’s also part of the “Blues Classics – Remastered & Revisited” series of 10 titles and is an absolute blues peach.

Here’s a detailed breakdown first (79:47 minutes):

1. Let’s Go Out Tonight
2. Peace Lovin’ Man
3. Stella Mae
4. I Put My Trust In You
5. I’m In The Mood
6. You Know, I Know
7. I’ll Never Trust Your Love Again
8. On Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
9. The Waterfront

Tracks 1 to 9 are the album “The Real Folk Blues” issued October 1966 in the USA on Chess LP 1508 - all tracks were written by John Lee Hooker except “I’m In The Mood” which was co-written with Bernard Besman.

10. This Land Is Nobody’s Land
11. Deep Blue Sea
12. Nobody Knows
13. Mustang Sally & GTO
14. Lead Me
15. Catfish
16. I Can’t Quit You Baby
17. Want Ad Blues
18. House Rent Blues

Tracks 10 to 18 are the album “More Real Folk Blues” issued September 1991 in the USA on MCA-Chess 9329. All tracks were written by John Lee Hooker except “I Can’t Quit You Baby” which is a Willie Dixon song, 1st issued by OTIS RUSH on Cobra Records 5000 in 1956 (it was also famously covered by Led Zeppelin on their 1969 debut album).

The band on both sessions were:
JOHN LEE HOOKER – Guitar and Vocals
LAFAYETTE LEAKE – Piano and Organ

ERICK LABSON of Universal Mastering (has over 800 mastering credits to his name) remastered the original master tapes and the sound is typically magnificent – fantastically clear. The drums, vocals, the bass and especially the duel guitar chugging of Burns and Hooker – all of it - muscular and in your face - and in all the right ways.

The 12-page booklet has a short essay on the album by CHRIS MORRIS of Billboard fame and then follows that with the album’s original liner notes and reissue credits.

But the big surprise for fans will the 'afterthought' album of 1991 “More Real Folk Blues” – although it’s essentially more of the same, the quality never lets up and it absolutely rocks. It isn’t remotely "folk" in its blues approach - most of the tunes are full band work outs – funky blues – with an almost James Brown 1966 vibe to the rhythms – very, very cool stuff indeed. Check out “Mustang Sally & GTO” on iTunes for a taster - it perfectly compliments “Stella Mae” on the 1966 original. And the solo performance on the love song “The Waterfront” is beautiful – the tune is ‘so’ quiet – yet the hiss level isn’t that bad – a sweet remaster by Labson.

“I’m in the mood…I said the night time is the right time…I’m in the mood for love…” moaned John Lee on the famous sex song. Well if this CD is anything to go by - then yeah baby!

Highly recommended.

PS: This CD is part of the “Blues Classics – Remastered And Revisited” Series – for a list of 10 titles in the Series – see my posting in Blogger

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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