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House of the Blues

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iTunes Review

Recorded in Chicago in April 1951 and Detroit in April 1952, these twelve songs are foundational in Hooker’s labyrinthine discography. The recordings are simple to the point of being unfinished, and electrifying to the point where the listener feels implicated in their violent rhythms. Accompanied occasionally by Eddie Kirkland on second guitar and vocals and more rarely by Bob Thurman on piano, Hooker’s one consistent companion is peg-leg stomp of his own boot heel. The tension in these songs is between the low, seductive growl of Hooker’s voice, the whiplash impact of his electric guitar, and the undying thump of that boot heel. Even with such simple ingredients, each piece manifests its own distinct atmosphere. “Ground Hog Blues” is taut and sleek, while “Louise” is queasy and frayed. Duetting with Kirkland on “Walkin’ the Boogie,” Hooker presents an evil Detroit echo of the close harmonies of the Everly Brothers. The songs are at once timeless and very time specific — few recordings can bring to life the Motor City’s postwar ghetto like “Ramblin’ by Myself.” Each recording offers within it a deep tissue massage and a vicious smack across the listener jaw.

Customer Reviews

Great blues beginner set

This is a fine example of Hooker during the prime of blues. Many people disagree, but this is a prime example of acoustic foot stompin blues!


Born: August 22, 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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