Musician - 1/92, p.88
"..whatever your taste, you'd have to be deaf not to respond to Wolf's Chicago classics..."Moanin' At Midnight" is one of the great moments in audio history.."
This, the fifth in the series of Chess boxes, contains 71 tracks sequenced chronologically from 1951-1973. Digitally remastered from original master tapes and 78s, it includes two previously unknown solo acoustic guitar and vocal performances ("Ain't Going Down That Dirt Road" and "I'm the Wolf"), four segments from HOWLIN' WOLF TALKS and 17 tracks either previously unreleased in the US or on LP.
Personnel includes: Howlin' Wolf (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Willie Johnson, Hubert Sumlin (guitar); J.T. Brown (tenor saxophone); James Cotton (harmonica); Hosea Lee Kennard, Lafayette Leake, Johnny Jones (piano); Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy (bass); Willie Steele, Sam Lay (drums).
28 of the tracks are in stereo, including previously unissued versions of "Killing Floor", "Spoonful" and "I Ain't Superstitious". The package includes a 32-page LP-sized booklet, with 2 sets of liner notes containing a biography, track-by-track annotation, a Chess discography and rare photos.
Personnel: Howlin' Wolf (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica); Willie Dixon (vocals); Eric Clapton, Freddie King, L.D. McGhee, Lee Cooper, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Rogers , Jody Williams, Willie Harris, Willie Johnson, Buddy Guy (guitar); Jeffrey M. Carp, James Cotton (harmonica); Abe Locke, Adolph Duncan, J.T. Brown, Arnold Rogers (tenor saxophone); Donald Hankins (baritone saxophone); L.C. Hubert, Henry Gray, Ike Turner, Hosea Lee Kennard, Lafayette Leake, Otis Spann, Albert Williams (piano); Steve Winwood (organ); Earl Phillips, Fred Below, Junior Blackman, S.P. Leary, Sam Lay, Charlie Watts (drums).
Audio Remixers: Andy McKaie; John Strother; Bill Inglot.
Liner Note Authors: Dick Shurman; Chris Morris.
Recording information: Chicago, IL (1951-1973); Memphis, TN (1951-1973).
Photographers: Ray Flerlage; David Gahr; Ernest C. Withers; Frank Scott; Henry Diltz; Peter Lee ; Douglas Fulton; Steve Cushing; Brian Smith .
Chester "Howlin' Wolf'" Burnett's razor-like voice was one of the signature sounds of post-war Chicago electric blues, and the three-disc CHESS BOX is the definitive document of his landmark recordings for the label that the Chess brothers made into the ultimate conduit for classic Chicago blues. Though coming from similar stylistic roots to his contemporary Muddy Waters, the Wolf had more of an edge to his sound. Where Muddy came across as a confident, grounded man, Burnett often seemed desperate and slightly crazed, as if he might come unhinged at any moment. The physically huge Burnett was indeed an intimidating presence, and such tracks as "Evil" and "How Many More Years" bear a dark, almost scary aura. The Wolf's monolithic status is further borne out when one considers how many of the songs included here ("Smokestack Lightnin'," "Killing Floor," "Spoonful") were the building blocks for nearly every important US and UK rock band that began in the first half of the 1960s. THE CHESS BOX is an absolutely essential slab of blues history.