John Lee Hooker

If You Miss 'Im...I Got 'Im

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This album is marked by the interaction between John Lee Hooker and his guitar-playing cousin Earl. Earl, who succumbed to illness in 1970, was a fine bluesman in his own right, possessing a formidable slide technique. Many are unaware that the two often performed together, and the band that accompanies John Lee here also backed Earl frequently. The opening cut, then, a slow 12-bar number called "The Hookers" is not about ladies of the evening, but rather about the gentlemen in question.

Heard here less than a year before his death, Earl still sounds frisky and versatile, often utilizing a funky wah-wah style without ever descending into the psychedelic excesses that plagued so many late-'60s electric blues albums. One of the most effective cuts is "Lonesome Mood," a low-key, one-chord stomper in the classic John Lee mold, where Earl's wah-wah guitar meshes with Johnny Walker's organ and Jefferey Carp's harmonica to create a subtly shifting, sensuously undulating web of sound over which John Lee works his hoodoo. On IF YOU MISS 'IM, John Lee definitely benefits from keeping it in the family.

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