• Cream of The Crate: CD's #31 - John Lee Hooker: Boogie Man


      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      "The blues tells a story. Every line of the blues has a meaning"(John Lee Hooker)
      "This is the Boogie man and he's coming to get you." (Liner notes)


      CD Cover

      This is number thirty one in the series of retro-reviews of Cd albums in my collection.

      The series is called,
      "Cream of The Crate (CD's)", and they represent CD albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because there is something unique about the group or the music.

      This is a single CD and while there are many John Lee Hooker releases, this album was never released as a stand-alone CD, but rather was part came with a magazine, The Blues Collection. In many ways this makes it collectable because that run would have been a limited one.

      The CD is titled "Boogie Man" and was released on the Blues Collection label (licensed from Charly International), and was released in 1993. Its code is BLU NC 001. The album has 18 tracks from from recordings undertaken between 1948 and 1966.


      I am very quick to criticise productions that fail to provide at the least decent liner notes, and more often than not many re-releases of previous recordings deserve a decent booklet to support the recording. Well this is a compilation of some of his best work and we might expect better than a simple one side of a page of very basic liner notes. Yet I can't criticise because the Cd was originally released with a whole magazine that would have featured stories and pictures of the great man.

      Sadly, I have no idea where the magazine is, in fact I'm not sure I didn't obtain the Cd without the mag despite the declaration inside the Cd cover stating, that Cd was not to be sold separate, so no criticism on this occasion.

      What the liner notes do say is as follows. "The "Boogie Man" collection spans almost two decades of music the incomparable John Lee Hooker. We hear him in his younger days at the beginning of his career, shouting and moaning the blues to the foot-stomping rhythm of his unique guitar.

      Yen we meet him as a major player of the premier league of the blues-men, leading his band to the mesmeric Hooker beat.

      He brags, he struts his stuff, he growls blues that bristle with magic and menace, and he rocks out to the irresistible rhythm he has made his own.

      This is the Boogie man and he's coming to get you.
      "

      Born near Clarksdale, Mississippi on August 22, 1917 to a sharecropping family, John Lee Hooker's earliest musical influence came from his stepfather, Will Moore. the early 1940's Hooker had moved north to Detroit way of Memphis and Cincinnati. Hooker also recorded under the names of Texas Slim, John Lee Booker, Birmingham Sam and His Magic Guitar, and Delta John.


      A young John Lee

      Hooker found work as a janitor in the auto factories, and at night, like many other transplants from the rural Delta, he entertained friends and neighbors playing at "house parties". He was "discovered" record store owner Elmer Barbee who took him to Bernard Besman, who was a producer, record distributor and owner of Sensation Records, Besman leased some of his early Hooker recordings to Modern Records.

      Among Hooker's first recordings in 1948, "Boogie Chillen" became a number one jukebox hit for Modern and his first million seller. This was soon followed an even bigger hit with "I'm In The Mood" and other classic recordings including "Crawling Kingsnake" and "Hobo Blues." Another surge in his career took place with the release of more than 100 songs on Vee Jay Records during the 1950's and 1960's.
      [John Lee Hooker biography website]

      If you are among blues music lovers and were discussing the most influential bluesmen, you would surely mention Muddy Water and Howling Wolf. There might be some debate as to who is next, but in my mind, it should be John Lee Hooker!




      Hooker must have had nothing but "Delta Blues blood" running through his veins. There are many fantastic Delta Blues singers, and this man was among the very best. His voice was unique and his music has been copied everyone from the Jimi Hendrix, the Animals, Van Morrison through to the Doors
      . He has probably had his music played literally thousands of young up and coming groups, all keen to dip their toes into the music of the blues.

      Track Listing

      1. Boom Boom
      2. Crawlin' King Snake
      3. Boogie Chillun'
      4. I'm In The Mood
      5. Leave My Wife Alone
      6. Time Is marching
      7. One Bourbon One Scotch One Beer *
      8. Ground Hog Blues
      9. Dimples
      10. Walkin' The Boogie
      11. Hobo Blues
      12. It Serves Me Right To Suffer
      13. High Priced Woman
      14. The Waterfront
      15. This is Hip
      16. Goin' mad Blues
      17. Wandering Blues
      18. House Rent Boogie


      All tracks written John Lee Hooker except *Track 7, written Amos Milburn.

      Given there is simply no such thing as a "bad" John Lee Hooker composition or track, yet again choosing a few tracks to feature becomes hard on one hand, I mean what do you leave out? through to, how easy is this? anyone of them could be chosen.

      We start with perhaps his best known track, Track # 1 - Boom Boom. So although John Lee Hooker was recording as early as 1948, it took 13 years before he wrote and recorded this magnificent track, which what might best be described as, the best "Blues/Pop" song ever written. It has a few distinguishing features, probably the most obvious is, that John Lee was never a man to be tied to tightly to structure, and even within the traditional "12 bar blues", he used to slide his timing and hell, he used to sometimes even alter the timing to fit his lyric structure, but always in a manner that produced a song that grabbed the listener.

      Boom Boom is played at 168 beats per minute which is, basically a very fast walking pace. Not the usual tempo for a blues track! The track uses some beautiful 'tricks' such as a form of pattern interruption, allowing for a classic Hooker guitar riff to break in, and maintaining Hooker's well known 'Boogie" style in the middle part of the track
      .

      The track itself, is simply a man declaring how this gal effects him!

      Boom, boom, boom, boom
      I'm gonna shoot you right down
      Right off your feet
      Take you home with me
      Put you in my house

      Boom, boom, boom, boom

      I love to see you strut
      Up and down the floor
      And when you talking to me that ba talk

      I like it like that

      Oh, when you talk like that
      You knocks me out
      Right off of my feet
      Hoo, hoo, hoo, whoa, yeah

      Boom Boom
      [MP3]http://www.tooraktimes.com.au/music/John_Lee_Hooker_Boom_Boom.mp3[/MP3]

      Track #3 - Boogie Chillun' This was the first track recorded John Lee Hooker in 1948, and it still holds up today as both a great boogie track, and a wonderful example of John Lee's style. Apart from going to #1 on the R&B charts in 1949, the riff John Lee developed became possibly the "mainstay" of future boogie tracks, and certainly had an influence on the soon to be developing, Rock 'n' Roll. The 'sound' may seem a bit dated to the uninformed ear, but this is pure music genius.



      Boogie Chillun'
      [MP3]http://www.tooraktimes.com.au/music/John_Lee_Hooker_Boogie_Chillun.mp3[/MP3]


      Track #9 is Dimples, and this along with Boom Boom would be the most often copied track all up and coming "white blues" bands in the 1960's. It has the classic Hooker 'Boggie Swing" about it. Hooker manages to beautifully drop some of the beats in the 12 bar structure, kind of like what I was eluding to in the discussion with Boom Boom. He didn't stick to the 'formula' on most occasions, and here the tempo is nowhere near the 168 bpm of Boom Boom, yet, it stands out as a classic John Lee Hooker track, perhaps almost rivaling Boom Boom as his most played track.

      As you can see from the complete print out of the lyrics, it doesn't take a complex set of lyrics with an involved story, to make a great track. It maybe even, that it doesn't get much simpler than this, and maybe John Lee Hooker was the fore runner of the "KISS" principle (Keep It Simple Stupid), well before it became fashionable toward the end of the 20th century.

      I love the way you walk
      I love the way you walk
      I'm crazy 'bout your walk
      I love the way you walk
      You my babe, I got my eyes on you

      I like the way you switch
      I like the way you switch
      I like the way you switch
      I like the way you switch
      You my babe, I got my eyes on you

      You got dimples in your jaw
      You got dimples in your jaw
      You got dimples in your jaw
      You got dimples in your jaw
      You my babe, I got my eyes on you


      Well, I see you every day
      Well, I see you every day
      If you need to look
      Well, I see you every day
      Well, I see you every day
      You my babe, I got my eyes on you


      Dimples
      [MP3]http://www.tooraktimes.com.au/music/John_Lee_Hooker_Dimples.mp3[/MP3]

      The final track is track #11- Hobo Blues and I have chosen because this track absolutely epitomises John lee Hooker the "traditional" delta blues singer. This is a delightful piece of blues that makes much use of his foot stomping rhythm and was recorded in 1966.

      For the second time in this review, I re-quote from the liner notes, "He brags, he struts his stuff, he growls blues that bristle with magic and menace, and he rocks out to the irresistible rhythm he has made his own." This track may have inspired that piece of writing!

      When I first thought to hobo'in, hobo'in
      I took a freight train to be my friend, oh Lord
      You know I hobo'd, hobo'd, hobo'd, hobo'd
      Hobo'd a long, long way from home, oh Lord

      Yes, my mother followed me that mornin', me that mornin', boy
      She followed me down to the yard, oh yeah
      She said, "My son he's gone, he's gone, he's gone
      Yes, he's gone in a poor some wear, oh yeah"

      Yes, I left my dear old mother, dear old mother
      I left my honor, need a crime, oh Lord
      Take care of my child
      Take care, take care of my child.


      We can feel the pain and anguish of the mother watching her child hitch the freight car, and joining the ever growing number of hobo's, whose numbers had swelled as a result of the Great Depression. Yet, this is not why I enjoy this track, I enjoy it because I hear a man who has the blues pouring from his very soul, and this is what attracts many of us to the blues, we are privy to share the pain, the desperation, the sadness and anger, that are the essential elements cooked up in a person's soul, and released as the blues!

      Hobo Blues
      [MP3]http://www.tooraktimes.com.au/music/John_Lee_Hooker_Hobo_Blues.mp3[/MP3]


      There are good deaths, and bad deaths and everything between. However, when a Blues legend passes on it is a death that is mourned many. In a large obituary, the New York Times wrote in part, "John Lee Hooker, the bluesman whose stark, one-chord boogies were some of the feistiest and most desolate songs of the 20th century, died yesterday in his sleep at his home in Los Altos, Calif., said his agent, Mike Kappus. He was 83."




      But we don't go out today and paying for music, some of it recorded some of it 66 years old, because there is a well written obituary that is factually accurate. We buy the music of blues artists like John Lee Hooker because it touches us, because it makes us smile, makes us sad, makes us glad to be alive!

      As Hooker himself wrote, "No matter what anybody says, it all comes down to the same thing. A man and a woman, a broken heart and a broken home. The blues tells a story. Every line of the blues has a meaning."

      I cannot imagine there is a lover of blues music that does not have John Lee Hooker in his or her collection and there is no reason to suggest that this particular album is better or worse than any other John Lee Hooker release. After all, there are around 88 Vinyl LP releases and 42 CD compilations. It would take a brave (or stupid) person to declare one was better than another.


      There was one copy of this Cd on Ebay, going for $16.00. I guess if you are trying to get all his Cd's then go for it. If you are just starting out to add John Lee Hooker to your collection, then this Cd while very good, is really only one of many - so just pick whatever one grabs your attention. BUT, get one!




      VIDEOS - Here is a selection of videos from Youtube featuring John Lee Hooker playing live.


      Crawlin' King Snake


      This Is Hip


      Maudie & Tupelo (two tracks)


      Leave My Wife Alone



      Previous Cream of the Crate Albums

      If you are interested in checking out the first fifty vinyl albums reviewed, just click HERE




      Cream of The Crate CD Reviews

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      #3 - Bob Dylan: Biograph
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      #6 - The Big Ol' Box Of New Orleans: Various Artists
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      #7 - Hugh Masekela: African Breeze
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      #8- The Last Poets: The Legend

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      #10 - Sixties Down Under (Volume 2): Various Artists

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      #15 - Sixties Down Under (Volume 3): Various Artists
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      #23 - The Sue Records Story: New York City - The Sound of Soul
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