John Lee Hooker was a versatile bluesman who could chill your spine one moment with songs like "Tupelo" and "T.B. Is Killing Me," and get you shaking your hips the next with infectious rave-ups like "Boom Boom."
Employing a stop-time hook that opens up for one of the genre's most memorable guitar riffs, "Boom Boom," originally recorded in Chicago in 1961, features some of Motown's legendary session musicians, known to Hooker from Detroit, where he had relocated from the Mississippi Delta in 1943. The track swings in a sophisticated, jazzy way that was steps removed from Hooker's early material, much of which featured just one chord and a riff. It was a progressive direction for the singer, one that can be heard directly influencing 1960s British blues-pop acts like the Yardbirds and the Animals, who covered the song. And yet Hooker was encouraged to continue to perform solo acoustic in America, capitalizing on the folk revival of the era. Nevertheless, "Boom Boom" was a hit for Hooker, even managing to crack the pop charts.
If a song about shooting a woman, bringing her home, and stuffing and mounting her on the wall can be considered cute, well, that's what this is. Hey, it's all metaphorical, like when one says to a baby, "You're so adorable, I could eat you up!" Surely this does not mean the person is a baby-eater: "Boom boom boom boom/I'm gonna shoot you right down/Right offa your feet/Take you home with me/Put you in my house/Boom boom boom boom." Like the would-be infant-eater, Hooker is at a similar struggle to express the depths of his desire, reverting to guttural grunts and laughs (picked up later by ZZ Top): "A-haw haw haw haw/Hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm." But it takes little time for Hooker to enunciate specifically what he loves, ebulliently declaring, "I love to see you strut/When you talking to me/That baby talk/I like it like that/Whoa, yeah!/Talk that talk/Walk that walk."
Ivory Joe Hunter -- a star in his own right for the hit song "Since I Met You Baby" -- absolutely slays on the piano track, answering the guitar riff. Motown session stars the Funk Brothers, James Jamerson and Benny Benjamin, swing as the rhythm section on bass and drums, respectively. Other Motown men Larry Veeder (guitar), Hank Cosby, and Mike Terry (horns) fill out the track.