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The Universal Masters Collection: Classic John Lee Hooker

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Album Review

Like any record company worth their salt, MCA knows a good gimmick when they see it, and when the millennium came around — well, the 20th Century Masters — The Millennium Collection wasn't too far behind. Supposedly, the millennium is a momentous occasion, but it's hard to feel that way when it's used as another excuse to turn out a budget-line series. But apart from the presumptuous title, 20th Century Masters — The Millennium Collection turns out to be a very good budget-line series. True, it's impossible for any of these brief collections to be definitive, but they're nevertheless solid samplers that don't feature a bad song in the bunch. For example, take John Lee Hooker's 20th Century volume — it's an irresistible 12-song summary of his MCA and Chess years. There may be a couple of noteworthy songs missing, but many of his best-known songs for the label are here, including "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer," "I'm in the Mood," "I'm Bad Like Jesse James," "Sugar Mama," "Ground Hog Blues," "It's My Own Fault," and "It Serves You Right to Suffer." Serious fans will want something more extensive, but this is an excellent introduction for neophytes and a great sampler for casual fans, considering its length and price. That doesn't erase the ridiculousness of the series title, but the silliness is excusable when the music and the collections are good.

Biography

Born: 22 August 1917 in Clarksdale, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

He was beloved worldwide as the king of the endless boogie, a genuine blues superstar whose droning, hypnotic one-chord grooves were at once both ultra-primitive and timeless. But John Lee Hooker recorded in a great many more styles...
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