Howlin' Wolf

The Chess Box

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AllMusic Review by

This three-CD box set currently rates as the best -- and most digestible -- overview of Howlin' Wolf's career. Disc one starts with the Memphis sides that eventually brought him to the label, including hits like "How Many More Years," but also compiling unissued sides that had previously only been available on vinyl bootlegs of dubious origin and fidelity. The disc finishes with an excellent cross section of early Chicago sessions, including classic Wolf tracks like "Evil," "Forty Four," "I'll Be Around," and "Who Will Be Next?" Disc two picks it up from there, guiding listeners from mid- to late-'50s barnburners like "The Natchez Burning" and "I Better Go Now" to the bulk of the Willie Dixon classics. The final disc runs out the last of the Dixon sessions into mid-'60s classics like "Killing Floor," taking the listener to a nice selection of his final recordings. A really nice bonus on this box set is the inclusion on the first two discs of snippets from a 1968 Howlin' Wolf interview and two performances of Wolf playing solo acoustic. If you've heard the sound of the Wolf, here's where you go to get a lot of it in one place. Definitely not the place to start (unless you have money to burn), but maybe just the perfect place to end up.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:55 Amazon
2 2:42
3 2:38
4 2:58
5 2:48
6
1:57 SpotifyAmazon
7 2:50 SpotifyAmazon
8 2:34
9 3:03
10 2:58
11 3:02 Spotify
12 2:20 Spotify
13 3:14
14 2:14 SpotifyAmazon
15 2:45 SpotifyAmazon
16 2:22 SpotifyAmazon
17 2:35 SpotifyAmazon
18 2:46 Spotify
19
1:47 SpotifyAmazon
20 2:52 SpotifyAmazon
21 3:03
22 2:54 Amazon
23 2:53
24 3:13
25 2:50 Amazon
26 2:34

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
4:04
2 2:56 Amazon
3
3:06
4
0:56 SpotifyAmazon
5
2:47 Spotify
6
2:09
7 2:23 Amazon
8 2:58 Amazon
9 2:35
10
2:36
11
2:48 Amazon
12
3:32
13
2:43
14 2:32 Amazon
15 2:38
16
3:21
17 2:23 Amazon
18 2:48 Amazon
19
0:26 SpotifyAmazon
20 2:44 Amazon
21 2:35 Amazon
22 2:15 Amazon
23 2:29 Amazon
24 2:27 Amazon
25 2:57
26 2:54 Amazon
27 Amazon
28
blue highlight denotes track pick