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The Howlin Wolf London Session - Deluxe Edition

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Album Review

Although The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions was not a high point in the careers of either Howlin' Wolf or the guest superstars Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Stevie Winwood, and Ringo Starr, it's not as bad as some blues purists make it out to be. This deluxe edition two-CD set pads out the original with an entire disc of previously unreleased alternate takes/alternate mixes (and three tracks from the same sessions that eventually showed up on the 1974 compilation London Revisited, which also included material by Muddy Waters). Fewer and fewer leftovers from the Chess catalog were available at the beginning of the 21st century, so here this is, bolstered by lengthy and entertaining liner notes spotlighting memories from producer Norman Dayron. The original album, presented here in its original mix, was adequate but flawed. The alternate versions really aren't all that different from the ones selected for the album, and some, in fact, are just alternate mixes. There are, however, some occasional notable differences, like "What a Woman!" with an organ overdub,"Poor Boy" with different lyrics, "The Red Rooster" with an alternate piano, a rawer "Who's Been Talking" with lots of studio chat, a version of "Do the Do" that goes on more than twice as long as the album rendition, and a "rehearsal take" (the only such item here) of "Worried About My Baby" that's far sparser than the one ultimately chosen.


Born: 10 June 1910 in West Point, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

In the history of the blues, there has never been anyone quite like the Howlin' Wolf. Six foot three and close to 300 pounds in his salad days, the Wolf was the primal force of the music spun out to its ultimate conclusion. A Robert Johnson may have possessed more lyrical insight, a Muddy Waters more dignity, and a B.B. King certainly more technical expertise, but no one could match him for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out...
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