Down Beat - 19604 Stars
- Very Good - "...it is delightful to be able to hear a full-voiced blues singer, backing himself on country-style guitar....There's heartache, sadness, joy, and hope in these songs..."
Solo performer: John Lee Hooker (vocals, acoustic guitar).
Recorded in Detroit, Michigan in April 1959. Originally released on Riverside (838). Includes original release liner notes by Orrin Keepnews.
Personnel: John Lee Hooker (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar).
Audio Remasterer: Phil DeLancie.
Liner Note Author: Orrin Keepnews.
Recording information: Detroit, MI (04/1959).
Photographers: Jim Rockwell; Howard Grubstein; Paul Bacon.
This 1959 recording is just John Lee Hooker, his acoustic guitar and his voice. What's deceptively complex in his enormous body of work is the way he conjures dark moods and hypnotic rhythms from the simplest of components--sometimes only one or two chords. Hooker has roots in the Mississippi Delta blues, specifically Charlie Patton, and he's the only latter day bluesman with direct ties to that era (he was born in 1920).
Whether abetted by a rhythm section or stripped down to basics, Hooker uses modal chords and endlessly snaking grooves. The rhythm of his guitar chugs along hypnotically under his supple voice, which can turn from a plaint to a growl in a flash. This set is both the map to a hidden treasure and the treasure itself.