Howlin' Wolf

The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions

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For the casual blues fan with a scant knowledge of the Wolf, this 1971 pairing, with Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts from the Rolling Stones, Ringo Starr, and other British superstars, appears on the surface to be one hell of a super session. But those lofty notions are quickly dispelled once you slip this disc into the player and hit play. While it's nowhere near as awful as some blues purists make it out to be, the disparity of energy levels between the Wolf and his U.K. acolytes is not only palpable but downright depressing. Wolf was a very sick man at this juncture and Norman Dayron's non-production idea of just doing remakes of earlier Chess classics is wrongheaded in the extreme. The rehearsal snippet of Wolf trying to teach the band how to play Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster" shows just how far off the mark the whole concept of this rock superstar mélange truly is. Even Eric Clapton, who usually welcomes any chance to play with one of his idols, has criticized this album repeatedly in interviews, which speaks volumes in and of itself.

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