2 LPs on 1 CD: THER REAL FOLK BLUES (1966)/MORE REAL FOLK BLUES (1967).
Producers: Leonard & Phil Chess, Sam Phillips, Willie Dixon.
Compilation producer: Andy McKaie.
Recorded in Chicago, Illinois. Includes liner notes by Mary Katherine Aldin, Willie Dixon and Paul Williams.
Digitally remastered Erik Labson (Universal Mastering, West, North Hollywood, California).
Personnel: Howlin' Wolf (vocals, harmonica); Lee Cooper, Hubert Sumlin, Jody Williams, Otis Smokey Smothers, Willie Johnson, Buddy Guy (guitar); Eddie Shaw, J.T. Brown, Arnold Rogers (tenor saxophone); Donald Hankins (baritone saxophone); Henry Gray, Hosea Lee Kennard, Lafayette Leake, Otis Spann (piano); Earl Phillips, Fred Below, Junior Blackman, Sam Lay (drums).
Liner Note Authors: Paul Williams ; Mary Katherine Aldin; Willie Dixon.
Recording information: Chicago, IL (09/24/1953-10/??/1953); Memphis (09/24/1953-10/??/1953).
Howlin' Wolf is one of the most distinctive voices in blues. Born Chester Burnett in 1910, he began his recording career at the age of 41, having moved from Mississippi to West Memphis. A subsequent move to Chicago in the '50s launched his career in earnest via the Chess label. The two albums included on this CD were released in the mid-'60s and draw from recordings dating back to a decade earlier or more. The "folk blues" moniker is not altogether accurate, as these are blistering electric performances.
These two dozen cuts define what we now think of as Chicago blues (little of which ever hits these staggering heights). An incredible array of singers owe the roots of their identity to Howlin' Wolf (for example, though he jettisoned standard blues structures for Dadaist soundscapes, Captain Beefheart could not have developed his voice without the Wolf). Bigger than blues, this is simply essential music.