Earl Hooker

An Introduction to Earl Hooker

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Never much of a singer, Earl Hooker's biting slide guitar tone and on-stage flamboyance made him the consummate showman, while his versatility kept him in demand as a sideman. An Introduction to Earl Hooker is a brief set (even with four bonus tracks it struggles to get past 35 minutes in length) which collects early-'60s tracks Hooker cut with producer Mel London's Age, Chief, and Mel-Lon imprints. These are mostly instrumentals (Hooker's drummer, Harold Tidwell, handles vocals on "Swear to Tell the Truth"), and include Hooker's signature tune, 1961's "Blue Guitar" (a year later, Muddy Waters at Chess would add vocals to the same basic track for his "You Shook Me"), the striking "Blues in D Natural," and an intriguing duet with Magic Sam on the two-part "Square Dance Rock," which features guitar quotes from country standards "You Are My Sunshine" and "Walking the Floor Over You." The sound quality on these sides isn't too hot, but Hooker's guitar -- which is really the show -- always cuts through. 2003's Blue Guitar compilation from Japan's P-Vine Records covers a lot more ground and does a much better job of presenting Hooker's Chief/Age period.

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