John Lee Hooker

The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues

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Of all the Chess albums in the Real Folk Blues series, the ones by John Lee Hooker might be most valued by hardened blues collectors. That's not so much because of the music -- actually the Real Folk Blues albums by some other artists, like Howlin' Wolf, are better -- but rather because, unlike the other records in the series, it was not simply a collection of various sessions that had often been previously issued. Hooker's The Real Folk Blues and More Real Folk Blues, in contrast, were actually taken from a May 1966 session specifically recorded to produce the albums (which are both combined onto one CD with this reissue). Hooker was backed by a good electric band (though he goes it alone on "The Waterfront"), including his longtime friend Eddie Burns on guitar, Lafayette Leake on keyboards, and Fred Below on drums (the bassist's name has been forgotten). Only The Real Folk Blues was issued at the time, and it's the better of the two albums, particularly since it features the original version of one of his most famous tunes, "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer." Hooker was noted for not being the easiest guy to put into an electric band situation, and the session is not his tightest, nor is the material (including a remake of his old hit "I'm in the Mood") his best or most diverse (even by his own self-cannibalizing standards). Still, it's reasonably good electric Hooker, a bit looser than Chess' usual standards, but pretty full-bodied and organized for a Hooker session. More Real Folk Blues, though recorded at the same session and intended to be released in the 1960s, was not first issued until 1991. Not quite as strong as The Real Folk Blues, it's still OK, and notable for the raucous "Mustang Sally & GTO" and the inclusion of some social commentary in "This Land Is Nobody's Land."

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