Best Of The Batch: John Lee Hooker

By MuzikMan [02-27-2007]

Artist: John Lee Hooker
Title: Hooker
Format: 4 Disc Boxed Set
Genre: Detroit Blues
Label: Shout! Factory

When I heard Shout! Factory was releasing a four disc John Lee Hooker boxed set, I almost jumped through my monitor, man I wanted it now! This label reminds of a label that was once a flourishing indie label as well, Rhino. They do things in a very distinctive way that separates them from all the rest.

I have been listening to Hooker's music for several years now and always found his sound to be unique and just as important as legends like B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters. He ranks very high on the list of all time great bluesmen that made a prolific difference for their respective genre and music as a whole.

One thing I always mention when I cover Hooker's music is the time I saw him play live in a beat up, back alley nightclub in Oakland, California. I was sitting a table away from Carlos Santana, and I knew when I saw him that we were all in for a very special evening with two great guitar god's exchanging licks. Carlos and John Lee were friends, soul mates of the blues, and this night would prove that fact to me beyond a shadow of a doubt. Since that night I have never heard music in the same way.

All of these factors made hearing this box set a very important experience for me personally, and it expanded my understanding of Hooker's recorded artistry more in one sitting than ever before. This box did serve that purpose very well indeed. Along with the four CDs that are jam packed with Hooker gems, there is also a comprehensive booklet that outlines the importance of what the man did for music during his time on this earth. He touched countless lives with speak from the heart blues and distinctive guitar playing. He single handedly created the Detroit Blues sound and the rest as they say, is history. Bits and pieces of that legacy are right here on this superb box set.

I have thousands of CDs, some are organized, and some are not. My Hooker collection is all over the place, not clumped together like some favorite artists I have a literal catalog of to access. The funny thing about that is the fact that I do not seem to have a problem finding any of the many titles that encompass my collection with Hooker's name on it. Maybe itís my internal radar that scopes it out amongst the countless CDs spread all over my music room. Whatever it is, it does work and I know deep inside its my connection to Hooker's soul, his music, and his life. Everyone has special artists that leave a lasting impression and certainly, John Lee did this for many people. Even though his time has passed from this realm of existence, he continues to make an impact unlike most recording artists past and present. If you listen to bands like ZZ Top and others you can hear the influence of this incredible talent everywhere.

I have to say now that the fire has been reignited within and I find myself wanting to gather all of the music of John Lee Hooker that I have in my collection, and that includes CDs and vinyl, and then seeking out more music from this eternal blues icon. This box set accomplishes what it sets out to do and then some. If you are familiar with the John Lee magic this is a must, or if you want to start somewhere and learn more about his accomplishments in the world of recorded music this is not a bad place to start.

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