John Lee Hooker

The Ultimate Collection (1948-1990)

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Rhino's double-disc 1991 set The Ultimate Collection (1948-1990) falls just short of the promise of its title, losing its focus toward the end of the set. That said, it comes close enough to satisfy, particularly because John Lee Hooker had such a long, convoluted discography, recording for a number of different labels over many decades. This gets the core of his legacy -- the early, minimalist boogie, the gritty late-'50s sides, all the way through to the superstar-studded recordings of the late '80s. If the desire to be comprehensive hurts the collection somewhat -- good though they may be, the '80s recordings really are for those who love all of Hooker's music, and the disc would have been better off if it was simply two discs of '40s through '70s -- this nevertheless gets all the classics ("Boogie Chillen," "Crawlin' King Snake," "Boom Boom," "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer," among them) while giving an idea of the scope of Hooker's career, making it a great introduction.

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