Howlin' Wolf

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This is the latest in a series of increasingly ubiquitous reissues of Howlin' Wolf's early-'50s Memphis-era recordings for Sam Phillips. The sound is clean, and good and loud, and the selection -- short of matching Bear Family Records' complete Memphis sides by Wolf (spread over two CDs, which are in a class by themselves) -- is very good, representing the various aspects of Wolf's music from this period, including the delightful "California Boogie" and "Look A Here Baby," with their very '40s-ish, almost pop-sounding accompaniment, complete with sax, shimmering guitar, and some very melodic piano, surrounded by Wolf's usual harder blues sound. The external packaging is a little misleading, as it emphasizes Wolf's association with Chicago blues, which came long after most of these sides were cut (not that his music ever changed too much). The annotation is nicely written, though the Bear Family CDs still offer better information and are a good match for sound quality.

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