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Non-Prog CD Reviews

John Lee Hooker

The Modern, Chess & Veejay Singles Collection 1949-62

Review by Gary Hill

This four disc set is packed full of great music. There is a tendency of the blues to be a bit samey. John Lee Hooker's sound seems to cover a lot of territory, though. We get stuff that's down and dirty old school blues. Other things are jazzy. Electric blues is heard at points. There is even some old time rock and roll. What's really obvious listening to this is the fact that John Lee Hooker has been a huge influence on a lot of modern musicians. This is recommended for a history lesson, but also for musical chops. It's great stuff.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
CD 1
 
Sally May
Old school acoustic blues opens the set. I love the guitar part on this. The vocal performance really conveys the pain in the singer's heart. .
Boogie Chillun
This energized number is the kind of thing that George Thorogood has really emulated in his sound.
Hoogie Boogie
A lot of rock music has borrowed from this kind of music. It's fast paced and rocking.
Hobo Blues
More of a traditional acoustic blues sound is the basis for this cool number.
Whistlin' and Moanin' Blues
The title here does a good job of explaining what this song is. It's another solid entry.
Weeping Willow Boogie
Although this has a lot of energy, it doesn't stand as tall as some of the rest to my ears.
Crawlin' King Snake
I've heard covers of this song over the years. Here's the original. It's easy to see why people have been drawn to this number. It's a slow old school blues that works really well.
Drifting From Door to Door
I like this old school blues number a lot. It's raw and so poignant.
I'm a Howlin' Wolf
I love the guitar fills on this tune. It's a classic blues song.
Playin' the Races
Not a big change, this is more cool old school blues.
No Friend Around

The tape hiss on this one is  pretty bad. The cut is a strong blues number beyond that, though.

Wednesday Evening
I like the guitar on this number. It's driving and powerful.
Give Me Your Phone Number

The guitar really sells this one, too.

Rock and Roll
Well, this song has to get some points just for the title. I dig the groove on this one.
Let Your Daddy Ride
This is a big change. It has piano and more of a jazzy arrangement. It's a lot of fun.
One More Time
Back to the type of arrangement heard on the rest of the set, this has a great classic blues sound. This is a very strong tune.
John Lee's House Rent Boogie
Now, speaking of George Thorogood, he did a version of this song. I like this take on it a lot.
Queen Bee
I' think I've heard some covers of this song over the years. The original has some cool guitar fills.
Tease Me Baby
Here's another solid old school blues tune.
Woman in My Life
I dig the rolling kind of vibe to this song.
Mad Man Blues
I love this song. It's just such a classic blues jam.
Boogie Now
This really has a lot in common with early rock and roll. It's a cool tune that brings some variety to the table. This is mostly instrumental.
Leave My Wife Alone
Here's another cool old school blues tune. The instrumental section brings something close to jazz to it.
Ramblin' by Myself
Very much stripped back old school blues, this has a lot of misery built into it.
Louise
Another classy old school blues tune, this works pretty well.
CD 2
              
High Priced Woman

Here is a great old school blues tune. This has energy and character.

Union Station Blues

The guitar playing is the star here.

I'm in the Mood
A driving old school blues is the idea here.
How Can You Do It
This has more of a rock and roll vibe for sure. It's fast paced, high energy and classy.
Anybody Seen My Baby
Very slow, down home blues is the order of business here.
Turn Over a New Leaf
I dig the lyrics and particularly the guitar playing on this thing. It's such a cool tune.
Ground Hog Blues
Visceral and raw, this old school blues number is very effective.
Rock Me Mama
More of a full band approach, organ is the main instrument on this tune. It's  a solid tune and a great bit of variety.
Cold Chills All Over Me
The organ powers all over this full band treatment, too. This is good, but that organ is a bit over the top. Additionally, the arrangement is a little too busy.
I Got Eyes for You
Now we're back into the guitar based territory. This one works pretty well, too.
It Hurts Me So
There is a female voice on this that adds a lot. There is an organ here that is so far up in the mix that it drowns everything out. That said, it just comes in for a chord here and there.
Bluebird Blues
Just downhome guitar and voice, this is a stripped back, but classic jam. Some sound problems mar this, as does a cough.
Key to the Highway
Old school blues, this one benefits from some extra vocals.
Walkin' the Boogie
I dig this tune. It's another that's set in the kind of sound that George Thorogood seems to like.
Sugar Mama
I love the old school blues on this piece.
It's My Own Fault
Now, this is the kind of thing Led Zeppelin would have used for inspiration. It's an electric blues tune with some cool piano.
Women and Money
This one has more of a jazz vibe with a full band treatment. The recording is a bit distorted, though.
It's Been a Long Time Baby
Another killer jam with full band, the saxophone adds a lot to this tune.
Rock House Boogie
An electric tune, this is high energy and a lot of fun.
It's Stormin' and Rainin'
This is some great old school blues. It's classy stuff for sure. I really love the guitar work on this thing.

Ride 'Til I Die
The arrangement on this one is more of a full on jazz band treatment. This is energized and a lot of fun. This is one of my favorite pieces on the whole set.
Love Money Can't Buy
This lives in the territory that's shared between old time rock and roll and electric blues.
Please Take Me Back
Old school blues is the idea here.
Too Much Boogie
Old school blues drives this number, too. It's a bit stripped down. It's also quite tasty.
CD 3
         

Need Somebody

Now, this electric blues stomper is very much the kind of thing that influenced a lot of 60s and 70s rockers. It's such a cool slow blues grind. It's very much ahead of its time.

Down Child
Old school, stripped back blues drives this tune.
Gonna Boogie
I really love this stomper. It's a lot of fun. It's traditional styled blues with a rather stripped down approach. I can hear Thorogood channeling this for sure.
I Wonder Little Darling
More like an acoustic blues type number, this has some great guitar soloing.
Jump Me (One More Time)
Old time rock and roll and blues merge here.
I Tried Hard
This is old school blues for certain. I love the piano and especially the saxophone soloing in this piece.
Let's Talk It Over
Featuring some great guitar soloing, this is another old school blues number.
Bad Boy
Here is another in the same kind of territory. The slide guitar is great.
Cool Little Car
I love the groove of this cool old school blues number.
Shake, Holler and Run
With a full band arrangement, this is a full old school rock and roll number. It's a lot of fun, too.
Half a Stranger
I love this slow blues grind. I love the bit of lyrics, "speak once and think twice."
Taxi Driver
More of a jazz arrangement is on hand here. This is a killer electric blues picce. I'd bet this was an influence on Jimi Hendrix.
You Receive Me
Stripped back slide blues is the idea here.
Hug and Squeeze
This is an old school rock and roller in the vein of something Chuck Berry might have done. The piano and sax are both nice touches.
The Syndicator
A slow blues grind combines with a hot jazz combo here. The saxophone soloing is top-notch. The whole piece just really works so well.
I'm Ready
This has a lot of old school rock and roll built into it. It's hot and heavy. It's another that's a lot like something Chuck Berry might do.
Lookin' for a Woman
The old school down and dirty blues is on the menu here. This is so cool.
Mambo Chillun
With harmonica at its heart, this is more of an old school blues tune, too.
Time Is Marching
This is another that's a traditional blues based tune. The harmonica wails throughout. The tune really feels like it's marching. It's another that's the kind of thing that surely influenced Led Zeppelin.
Every Night
Based in a killer electric blues format, this thing is so tasty. I love this tune.                
Trouble Blues
This is more of that old time rock and roll. It's bouncy and catchy and a lot of fun.
Baby Lee
And here's another old school blues styled tune.
Dimples
I love the bass work on this cut. It's another classy tune on a disc that's full of them.
I'm So Worried Baby
A slow blues tune, this works really well.
The Road Is So Rough
I dig this electric blues tune a lot. It has a very classic sound for sure.
CD 4
                       
I'm So Excited

A classic electric blues sound is the idea here. This one works well.

I See You When You're Weak
The concept isn't greatly changed here. This is just another classy slab of the same general stuff.
Rosie Mae
Old school blues and rock and roll merge on this number. The piano brings some magic to the piece.
Little Wheel

Here's another that's more along the lines of 50s rock and roll.

Unfriendly Woman
More of a traditional electric blues sound is the basis of this. The harmonica is a nice touch.
You Can Lead Me, Baby
The blues and rock and roll meet on this number.
I Love You Honey
There is some great piano playing on this tune. It's very much an old school rock and roller of the variety Chuck Berry made famous.
You've Taken My Woman
I love this rock and roller. It's well rooted in the blues, but a cool rocker.
Maudie
The old school rock on this is so classy.
I'm in the Mood
I love the slow traditional blues sound on this performance. It's one of the better cuts like this here.
Boogie Chillun
This has a lot of energy and rocks pretty well. It's a fun number. I think I like the earlier version we heard better, though.
Tennessee Blues
I love the bass playing on this killer tune. It's a great piece of music.
Hobo Blues
Here's another that had a different rendition earlier. This has a real old school, back porch blues sound. I like this version better than the one we heard earlier.
Crawlin' Kingsnake
Another repeat, this back to roots blues song works extremely well here. I'm not sure which version I prefer, but this is great.
Solid Sender
Another classy traditional blues track, I really like this one a lot.
No Shoes
You can get much more traditional blues than this thing. It's a strong tune but not one of my favorites.
Dusty Road
Another old school blues song, this is cool.    
Tupelo (Aka Backwater Blues)
A very stripped down blues track, this is solid stuff.
I'm Mad Again
Another smoking hot traditional blues cut, this is just plain mean.
I'm Going Upstairs
This electric blues rocker seems like it might have been a big influence on Jimi Hendrix. I like it a lot.
Take Me as I Am
This is just acoustic guitar and vocals. It's almost more of a folk song than it is blues. Still, you could say that blues is a type of folk music.
Want Ad Blues
Rock and roll and blues combine very nicely here.
Boom Boom
This is a classic tune. This rendition really rocks. I love the rock and roll and jazz stylings later. The whole thing just works so well.
Drug Store Woman
I love this killer electric blues tune.
Let's Make It
Here's another great blues rocker.
She's Mine
This is very similar to the song "La Bamba." It's cool fast paced rock and roller.
A New Leaf
Slow blues and jazz are on the menu in this rendition. I loved the other version of this, but this one is even better. It's one of the highlights of the entire set. Given the amount of material here, that says a lot.

 

 
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