Down Beat - 9/905 Stars
- Excellent "...Hooker at his most menacing, unconstrained by bar lines and accompanists, free to relentlessly follow the mood of the tune wherever it suits him."
Solo performer: John Lee Hooker (vocals, guitar).
Recorded at Hunter College, New York, New York. Includes liner notes by Robert Palmer.
ALONE is made up of songs taken from a pair of live sets recorded at New York City's Hunter College spread over two discs. As the title makes evident, this is John Lee Hooker stripped down to basics; just a voice and an acoustic guitar. Despite the apparent simplicity of this set-up, Hooker's musical approach went beyond the stereotypical image of a blues musician keeping time with his foot and stringing together colloquial non sequitirs. Instead, improvisation is the name of the game, which means that Hooker doesn't necessarily keep specific time. Instead, these rambling narratives are occasionally punctuated either by a stray chord or a few squeezed-off notes.
This technique works especially well on some of the deeper shadows within which the Hook walks. "Jesse James" gave the outlaw his due whereas "I'll Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive" reeks of the foreboding that Robert Johnson must have felt at the crossroads. Hooker does get to boogie, and lays down a nice groove on numbers such as "Boom Boom," "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" and "All Night Long."