John Lee Hooker

Definitive Collection [Metro]

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No, it's not the definitive collection, covering just Hooker's time with Vee-Jay from the mid-'50s to the mid-'60s. In fact, it's not even the definitive collection of the Vee-Jay years, although with 24 tracks, it's pretty long for a single-disc retrospective of that phase. Hooker's Vee-Jay catalog is pretty well traveled, and this isn't the lengthiest survey of it. But because Hooker's Vee-Jay period was very good, this CD is very good, with its couple dozen slices of the label and era that produced his best full-band recordings (and the ones that are most approachable for R&B/rock listeners). As would happen with any 24-song Vee-Jay anthology, not everyone will think these are the best 24 tracks that could have been selected: "Maudie" and "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" are the most notable absentees. However, it does have some of his most familiar recordings -- "Dimples," "Boom Boom," "I'm Mad Again" (covered by the Animals), the underrated "Don't Look Back" (covered by Them), the original version of "It Serves You Right to Suffer" (here titled "It Serves Me Right to Suffer"), and his Vee-Jay versions of "Boogie Chillun," "I'm in the Mood," and "Crawlin' Kingsnake."

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:45
2 2:51
3 2:13
4 2:59
5 2:33
6 2:43
7 2:36
8 2:53
9 2:53
10 2:44
11 2:32
12 2:54
13 3:02
14 2:31
15 2:38
16 2:36
17 2:54
18 2:37
19 2:35
20 2:14
21 2:31
22 2:29
23 3:31
24 2:28
blue highlight denotes track pick