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The Genius of Earl Hooker

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Album Review

This rare circa-1967 album has what you'd expect from a vintage Earl Hooker LP: blues instrumentals with unfailingly stinging guitar, a relaxed groove, and soul-tinged arrangements bolstered by solid organ. If it's mighty reliable in what it delivers, it also has to be said that there aren't many surprises, the tracks coming close to very high-class blues background music in some senses. As that limited genre goes, however, this is at the top of that class, Hooker throwing in enough energetic flourishes, swoops, and musical equivalents of exclamation points to not just keep things interesting, but also keep a smile on your face. A few familiar blues and soul tunes are covered here, including "Dust My Broom," "Hold On, I'm Coming," and "Something You Got," the last of these unappetizingly retitled "Something You Ate." But for the most part the program is original, including one number, "Bertha," that seems to look toward Santo & Johnny's sleepy slide guitar workouts for inspiration.


Born: 15 January 1929 in Clarksdale, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

If there was a more immaculate slide guitarist residing in Chicago during the 1950s and '60s than Earl Hooker, his name has yet to surface. Boasting a fretboard touch so smooth and clean that every note rang as clear and precise as a bell, Hooker was an endlessly inventive axeman who would likely have been a star had his modest vocal abilities matched his instrumental prowess and had he not been dogged by tuberculosis (it killed him at age 41). Born in the Mississippi Delta, Hooker arrived in Chicago...
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The Genius of Earl Hooker, Earl Hooker
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