John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker Sings Blues

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"Wandering Blues," the driving opener throughout which Hooker keeps time loudly with his foot, should give listeners a sense of what to expect from SINGS THE BLUES. These spare, raw recordings, originally made for the King label (the subtitle reads "16 selections-every one a pearl"!), are Hooker at his finest. Hooker's primitive gutbucket electric guitar is the main ingredient here, and it is his hard-edged boogie playing that fuels the fire.

Though somewhat less of a growl than on later recordings, Hooker's voice is no less soulful or urgent. It seethes with dark energy on such cuts as "Heart Trouble Blues" and the pulsing "Nightmare Blues." This work is vintage electric-blues, as cuts like "Thinking Blues" and "Blue Guitar Blues" will attest. Taken together, the tracks on SINGS BLUES are excellent examples of the gripping synthesis of folk blues and electric power that marks Hooker's early work.

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