Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Simply The Best
Genres: Blues, Pop, R&B
There's only one complaint to be voiced about this best-of collection, which includes a great deal of material never previously available on CD: the lack of remastering. The scratches and static mar an otherwise crisp and ... more »
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There's only one complaint to be voiced about this best-of collection, which includes a great deal of material never previously available on CD: the lack of remastering. The scratches and static mar an otherwise crisp and energetic rendition of "Sweet Home Chicago," and may interfere with one's enjoyment of the clean, expressive guitar on "Drivin' Wheel." What can't be denied, however, is the compelling combination of Earl Hooker's virtuosity with an expressiveness that made his guitar solos far more than mere noodling. Just listen to his guitar work on the opening track, Muddy Waters's take on the classic "You Shook Me"--Hooker's guitar complements Waters's smoking vocals perfectly. In addition to much of his own material, chiefly from the late 1960s, this collection also features two tracks recorded with Johnny "Big Moose" Walker, including a slow-burning take on "The Sky Is Crying." He also backs up the late blues-R&B great Charles Brown on "Drifting Blues," and closes with a duet on "If You Miss 'Em... I Got 'Em" with his much more famous second cousin, John Lee. Earl Hooker's never had the name recognition accorded to T-Bone Walker, B.B. King, or others who started trends in the blues or even achieved crossover success. But he's a well-known name among bluesmen themselves, and Simply the Best illustrates why quite handily. --Genevieve Williams
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Great musician, good collection
Docendo Discimus | Vita scholae | 04/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"John Lee Hooker's younger cousin Earl Zebedee Hooker was a highly skilled slide guitarist, inspired by the great Robert Nighthawk, and possessing the smoothest of fretboard touches.
This collection opens with Muddy Waters' 1961 recording of "You Shook Me", the only time Waters ever relinquished the position of slide lead guitarist to anyone.
Earl Hooker wasn't the best or most exciting singer, and several of these 19 tracks are instrumentals or feature lead vocals by other artists, cousin John Lee among them.
Six instrumentals may be a bit too much for some, but just think of them as long solos...Hooker's playing really is that good! And he is backed by a slew of great musicians, including guitaris/pianist Ike Turner, saxists Donald Hankins and A.C. Reed, and keyboardist Johnny "Big Moose" Walker, who also takes the lead vocal on a couple of tracks (the great "Is You Ever Seen A One-eyed Woman Cry", which featured Walker, is unfortunately missing).
Johnny "Big Moose" Walker also plays a lot of great blues piano on this disc, and Earl Hooker himself sings reasonably well on "Sweet Home Chicago" and the swinging boogie of "Don't Have To Worry". Andrew "Big Voice" Odom does a great "Come To Me Baby" and a good "They Call It Stormy Monday", harpist Sonny Terry performs his own "When I Was Drinkin'", and finally Charles Brown himself guests on a 1969 rendition of his own "Drifting Blues".
There are a couple of duds here, including the weird "Universal Rock" which utilizes electronic gimmicks like wah-wah pedals and distortion units. And even with Hooker's playing, Big Moose Walker's take on "The Sky Is Crying" pales next to Elmore James' original.
But the majority of these tracks are very good, and they go a long way towards explaining why an almost tearful B.B. King once said to Buddy Guy: "Nobody can play a slide that clean!"
Well, except Earl Hooker."
Another Under Rated Blues Super Star!!!
Tail Dragger | Hayward, California USA | 02/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are three great legendary blues guitarist who I have always felt have never received the recognition that they so justly deserve. Guitar Slim, Magic Sam, and this man Earl Hooker. This could be because these three legends had past away so young and at the pinnacle of what would have been long lasting and exstensive careers. This cd is an historic testament to a remarkable blues man. Earl Hooker is innovator. One of the first in Chicago to use wah and fuzz pedals. Years ahead of the great Jimi Hendrix. Beatiful guitar playing from the soul is what you will find on this cd. Do youself a favor pick it up today."
Wah-Wah Blues At Its Best
Anthony S. Prowse | Melbourne, Australia | 10/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Way back when, I had quite a few Earl Hooker LP's and have been looking for the Bluesway album "Don't Have To Worry" on CD for a few years but without success. This album, to me, was his best as it had Earl, Big Moose Walker and Andrew Odum at the top of their game. When I came upon this "Simply the Best" CD and found it contained 5 tracks from the above album, I couldn't resist. To my delight I also found that every other track is a gem. I am not a big wah-wah fan but in the hands and feet of Earl Hooker it is transformed into a thing of beauty. He is easily one of the best Chicago blues guitarists of all time and this CD shows you why. He is not the best of singers though, and thankfully he often utilises the vocal skills of those who can. Also, great singers like John Lee Hooker, Sonny Terry and Charles Brown used Earl as session guitarist (wise move). About half this CD has Earl as a session player and the the other half as band leader. This is an excellent mix as it spotlights him in a variety of settings and material and not only makes for a great album but allows the first time listener to get a complete overview of his career. From here one can explore the world of Earl Hooker and what a fine world it is. However, as the title suggests, this album is "Simply the Best" and is a great place to start the Earl Hooker experience. It is highly infectious and stands up to repeated listenings. Put this on and you will be boppin' 'round the house or slappin' the dash. As I am writing this review I am listening to the album and cannot stop tappin' my feet to the soulful groove of the King of Slide Guitar. As Cub Koda writes in his review above, Earl Hooker is the Chicago Blues guitarist's guitarist so do yourself a favour and get this album to find out what all the fuss is about; you won't be disappointed.