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It Serves You Right to Suffer

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iTunes Review

John Lee Hooker’s 1966 album It Serves You Right to Suffer is one of the most unique entries in the guitarist’s massive catalog, and it constitutes one of his most rewarding listening experiences. It was Hooker’s lone album for Impulse, the jazz label that oversaw groundbreaking releases by John Coltrane, Albert Ayler and Charles Mingus. They set up Hooker as they would any jazz leader — with the supervision of master engineer Rudy Van Gelder, and the backing of a rhythm section drawn from the world of R&B and jazz, in this case, bassist Milt Hinton and drummer David “Panama” Francis. The crisp engineering and lithe playing immediately distinguishes the album from the hundreds of other Hooker releases. At the time, blues purists might have whined that the high-minded jazz label was wrongly attempting to refine a gnarled bluesman, but Hooker had always been a sophisticated individual, both musically and mannerly. It Serves You Right… succeeds because it emphasized the regality that had always been implicit, even in his rawest recordings.

Customer Reviews

John Lee Hooker

The single greatest recording session John Lee ever made, bar none

a lesson in the blues...

more people need to discover JLH!! i just heard a cool cover of "serves me right to suffer" by Eddie Skuller, and i can imagine many others also covering some of John's classics.

Moody magic blues

In which John Lee and some jazzers cut some seriously chillin juke. This is the one to get for some JL Hooker tunes. Peace.


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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