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Real Folk Blues / More Real Folk Blues (Remastered)

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Album Review

Of all the Chess albums in the Real Folk Blues series, the ones by John Lee Hooker might be most valued by hardened blues collectors. That's not so much because of the music — actually the Real Folk Blues albums by some other artists, like Howlin' Wolf, are better — but rather because, unlike the other records in the series, it was not simply a collection of various sessions that had often been previously issued. Hooker's The Real Folk Blues and More Real Folk Blues, in contrast, were actually taken from a May 1966 session specifically recorded to produce the albums (which are both combined onto one CD with this reissue). Hooker was backed by a good electric band (though he goes it alone on "The Waterfront"), including his longtime friend Eddie Burns on guitar, Lafayette Leake on keyboards, and Fred Below on drums (the bassist's name has been forgotten). Only The Real Folk Blues was issued at the time, and it's the better of the two albums, particularly since it features the original version of one of his most famous tunes, "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer." Hooker was noted for not being the easiest guy to put into an electric band situation, and the session is not his tightest, nor is the material (including a remake of his old hit "I'm in the Mood") his best or most diverse (even by his own self-cannibalizing standards). Still, it's reasonably good electric Hooker, a bit looser than Chess' usual standards, but pretty full-bodied and organized for a Hooker session. More Real Folk Blues, though recorded at the same session and intended to be released in the 1960s, was not first issued until 1991. Not quite as strong as The Real Folk Blues, it's still OK, and notable for the raucous "Mustang Sally & GTO" and the inclusion of some social commentary in "This Land Is Nobody's Land."


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 than that over a career that stretched across more than half a century. "The Hook" was a Mississippi native who became the top gent on the Detroit blues circuit in the years following World War II. The seeds for his eerily mournful guitar sound were planted by his stepfather,...
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