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John Lee Hooker

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iTunes Review

John Lee Hooker’s first release for the Gary, Indiana-based Vee-Jay label marked the guitarist’s transition from a singles artist to albums. Travelin’ was recorded entirely in one session at Bill Putnam’s hallowed Universal Studio, at 46 E. Walton St., in the Near North Side neighborhood of Chicago. Where Hooker’s early Chicago recordings were raw-boned solo performances, the songs here are strengthened by a rotund, rock-solid backing band comprised of guitarist William “Lefty” Bates, bassist Sylvester Hickman and drummer Jimmy Turner. The effect is the difference between hearing a man playing on an upturned crate on a street corner, and experiencing a band take a barroom stage after midnight on the South Side. Hooker is a great bandleader, forcing his musicians to milk the groove for everything it’s worth, and leave plenty of the dramatic space in which Hooker’s songs thrive. The band also brought out a new tone in Hooker. It’s impossible to overstate the sex appeal of songs like “No Shoes,” “I Can’t Believe” and “I Wanna Walk.” The rhythms are hypnotizing, although the ultimate thrill is hearing Hooker’s guitar cut nasty slashes through the lulling groove, as he does on “Solid Sender.”

Customer Reviews

Hooker's "Travelin'" Has Me Hooked

John Lee Hooker was never one of my favorite blues guitarists. I bought a "Best of JLH" collection years ago, but never really listened to it. For some reason I came across "Travelin'" and sampled each song on iTunes. Wow! Each song, though simple, just hooked me immediately. Hooker's guitar is a perfect example of how sometimes less is more. Even though I'm not familiar with his other albums, "Travelin'" has now become one of my favorite blues albums of all time.

no shoes

i click it twice by mistake nobodys want to buy the same record twice thank you

Mr. Hooker at his best!

I have long been a fan of John Lee Hooker and have several of his albums. This is him in his early days before the greatly deserved popularity and has a wonderful rawness and freshness about it. From "Travelin'" to "Face to Face," what incredible bookends!


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...
Full Bio

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