Rolling Stone - p.110Ranked #1
in Rolling Stone's "The Top 10 Reissues Of 2006" -- "[A]n aptly locomotive portrait of Hooker's blues, highlighting his primal composing genius..."
Q - p.1103 stars out of 5
-- "This is music reduced to its bare necessities, a victory for the primitive power of one-chord grooves and a baritone boom."
Uncut - p.905 stars out of 5
-- "Hooker held fast to the visceral mysteries of rural blues, while yoking them to the electric crackle of the industrial north."
Down Beat - p.804 stars out of 5
-- "Hooker blended Delta incantation and rhythm in a singularly primal way that brought out all the sensuality in his songs."
No Depression - p.79
"[H]is basic sound remained constant: songs built around single-chord drones; unrhymed lyrics that often sounded improvised; propulsive but stripped-down rhythmic patterns usually devoid of standard structure or timing."
Mojo (Publisher) - p.1144 stars out of 5
-- "[H]is collaboration-heavy THE HEALER made him a global superstar but his roots remained firmly in the Mississippi Delta."
Personnel: John Lee Hooker (vocals, guitar); Robert Cray, Van Morrison (vocals, guitar); Bonnie Raitt (vocals, slide guitar); Bobby "Blanco" King, William "Bill" Greene, Terry Evans, Zakiya Hooker (vocals); John F. Hammond, Alan Wilson (guitar, harmonica); Anthony Cook (guitar, synthesizer); Jim Kahr, Mike Osborn, Danny Caron, David Hidalgo, William "Lefty" Bates, Eddie Kirkland, Eddie "Guitar" Burns, Eddie Taylor, Robert "Red Top" Young, Eric Clapton, Henry Vestine, Mike "Hollywood Fats" Mann, Larry Veeder, Jimmie Vaughan, Johnny Lee Schell, Lloyd Gregory, Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, Muddy Waters, Ry Cooder, Sammy Lawhorn, Steve Miller , Tim Kaihatsu, Tony McPhee, Barry Galbraith, Billy Friday Johnson, Wally Richardson, Roy Rogers , Bruce Kaphan, Buddy Guy, Carlos Santana, Cesar Rosas (guitar); Warren Haynes (slide guitar); Hele Rosanthal, John "Juke" Logan, Louis Myers (harmonica); Emilio Castillo, Henry Cosby, Lenny Pickett , Otis Finch (tenor saxophone); Andrew "Mike" Terry, Stephen "Doc" Kupka, Steve Berlin (baritone saxophone); Mic Gillette (trumpet, trombone); Greg Adams (trumpet); Tom Parker, Ernie Hayes (piano, organ); John Griffith, James Watkins, Dan Zemelman, Ivory Joe Hunter , Bob Thurman, Johnnie Johnson, Otis Spann, John Sanders, Boogie Woogie Red, Charles Brown (piano); Booker T. Jones, Deacon Jones (organ); Chester Thompson , Clifford Coulter, Jimmy Pugh, Bill Payne (keyboards); Armand Jump Jackson, Richard G. Johnson, Earl Phillips, Kevin Williams , Francis Clay, Fred Below, Ken Swank, Dave Boorman, Marlon Green, Curtis Foster, Jim Keltner, Adolfo de la Parra, Kevin Hayes , Al Duncan , Louis Hayes, Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, Panama Francis, Quinn Wilson, Scott Mathews , Victor Bisetti, Benny Benjamin, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, Gaylord Birch, Bowen Brown (drums); Raul Rekow, Armando Peraza (congas); Jos‚ Chepit¢ Areas, Karl Perazzo (timbales); Randie McBride (percussion); Terrance Kelly, Tina Bryant (background vocals).
Audio Remasterer: Pat Kraus .
Liner Note Authors: George Thorogood ; Van Morrison; Zakiya Hooker; Ted Drozdowski; Bonnie Raitt; Carlos Santana.
Recording information: American Folk Blues Festival, Hamburg, Germany (02/18/1929-06/??/1998); Cafe Au Go-Go, NY (02/18/1929-06/??/1998); Chicago, IL (02/18/1929-06/??/1998); Detroit, MI (02/18/1929-06/??/1998); Gene Deitch's Home, Pleasant Ridge (02/18/1929-06/??/1998); Hollywood, CA (02/18/1929-06/??/1998); London, England (02/18/1929-06/??/1998); Los Angeles, CA (02/18/1929-06/??/1998); Miami, FL (02/18/1929-06/??/1998); New York, NY (02/18/1929-06/??/1998); Newark (02/18/1929-06/??/1998); Redwood City (02/18/1929-06/??/1998); San Francisco, CA (02/18/1929-06/??/1998); Sausalito, CA (02/18/1929-06/??/1998); Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (02/18/1929-06/??/1998).
Photographers: Emily Johnson; Bill Reitzel; Jay Blakesberg; Jake Butler; Douglas Menuez; Elliott Landy; Paul Natkin; Steve Rappaport.
Unknown Contributor Role: Louie P‚rez.
Arranger: John Lee Hooker.
Although blues legend John Lee Hooker has been compiled on more best-of sets than anyone would care to count, it wasn't until 2006's HOOKER that a box set spanning the entirety of his vast, sprawling discography appeared. Arranged chronologically, HOOKER spans four discs and five decades, reaching all the way back to the man's seminal 1948 recording "Boogie Chillen,'" one of the rawest, purest, most groove-intensive blues performances put to wax.
The set rightfully allots a good deal of space to Hooker's '50s and '60s work, emphasizing the spare guitar-and-voice sides he cut for Modern, and the full electric band sides he cut at Chess, Vee-Jay, and a host of smaller labels. It's to Shout Factory's credit that there's little from the '70s or '80s here, with a stress instead placed on Hook's resurgence in the '90s, and his duets with Bonnie Rait, Robert Cray, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, and the like. There's barely a skippable cut in the entire box, but it's the early stuff that still slays, with Hooker's drone-centric guitar, unique sense of time, and urgent, earthy vocals slicing through the air like a stiletto. A beautifully assembled set of essential music, HOOKER is a necessity for anyone seeking a comprehensive introduction to the king of endless boogie