John Lee Hooker

Burning Hell

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A 1959 recording that was inexplicably not issued in the United States until 1992, Burning Hell ranks among John Lee Hooker's most edgy and focused performances. A companion piece to The Country Blues of John Lee Hooker, it finds Hooker singing country-blues, accompanied only by his own acoustic guitar -- something he rarely did after traveling north from the Mississippi Delta. Tackling several originals as well as tunes associated with Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Big Bill Broonzy, Hooker shows himself to be an excellent interpreter who could have held his own with Delta bluesmen of any era. Although his guitar playing is pretty raw even by blues standards, Hooker more than compensates with his powerful, resonant voice. Several tracks, including "Burnin' Hell" and "You Live Your Life and I'll Live Mine," are downright frightening in their intensity. Although Robert Jr. Lockwood is often identified as Robert Johnson's successor, this album would seem to indicate that John Lee Hooker is the most likely candidate to have a hellhound on his trail.

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