John Lee Hooker

Blues Kingpins

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If John Lee Hooker hadn't existed, the blues would have had to invent him, because he provides a perfect bridge between prewar country blues from the south and the urban electric blues that took form in Chicago and other Northern cities following the war. Hooker's first big hit, the primeval "Boogie Chillen'" from 1948, is a case in point, with its driving Mississippi rhythm and intangible Detroit ambience. This succinct anthology collects "Boogie Chillen'" along with 1949's equally as influential "Crawlin' King Snake" and 16 other tracks drawn from Hooker's run with Modern Records between 1948 and 1954. The familiar sides are here, but so too are relatively rare tracks like "Hug and Squeeze" and "The Syndicator," making this a nice introduction to Hooker's early (and arguably best) recording period.

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