John Lee Hooker

Gold

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John Lee Hooker never abandoned his raw, gut bucket Mississippi-Delta-comes-to-the-city approach to the blues throughout his fifty-year career, and if he got a tad bit slicker towards the end of that career, it was only a tad and only by degree. There are innumerable Hooker collections on the market, and this two-disc set wouldn't be anything particularly special except that it actually charts through his entire history, beginning with the ageless "Boogie Chillen," which was recorded in 1948 and topped the R&B charts for Modern Records in 1949, through "Tupelo," which was recorded in 1993 and released on the Pointblank LP Chill Out in 1995. In between these two are most of Hooker's essential tracks, including 1949's "Crawlin' King Snake" from Modern, 1962's "Boom Boom" from Vee-Jay Records, 1964's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" from Chess and "The Healer" from 1989's Chameleon Records LP of the same title that paired Hooker with various musical celebrity guests like Bonnie Raitt and Carlos Santana and gave Hooker yet another opportunity to trot out his amazingly durable song catalog. A single-disc of either Hooker's Modern or Vee-Jay sides would probably deliver more quality John Lee bang for the buck, but the historical sweep of this collection, which truly spans Hooker's whole career (which admittedly didn't vary a whole lot), gives it a good deal of added credence.

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