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Definitive Collection
Howlin Wolf
Definitive Collection
Genres: Blues, Pop
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1



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CD Details

All Artists: Howlin Wolf
Title: Definitive Collection
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Geffen Records
Original Release Date: 1/1/2007
Re-Release Date: 4/17/2007
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genres: Blues, Pop
Styles: Chicago Blues, Traditional Blues, Regional Blues, Memphis Blues, Electric Blues
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 602517240865


Product Description

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CD Reviews

Docendo Discimus | Vita scholae | 01/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is really just MCA/Chess' Howlin' Wolf-compilation "His Best" in new guise, but that's not a bad thing. "His Best" was by far the greatest single-disc Wolf-compilation on the market, and now this one is simply taking its place.

But do you know what you are getting into here? Even people who like Muddy Waters are sometimes turned off by the "sound of heavy machinery operating on a gravel road" that was Howlin' Wolf's voice.
Chester Arthur Burnett, the Howlin' Wolf, stood about 6'4" and weighed close to three hundred pounds in his prime, and his raw, throat-shredding vocals sound positively frightening on early cuts like "Moanin' At Midnight" and the clanging, piano-driven boogie of "How Many More Years", his first R&B hit, and the one which allowed him to proudly state that "I'm the onliest one drove out of the South like a gentleman!"

This is electric blues of the highest order, rough and tough and extraordinarily powerful. The songwriting credits are shared about equally by the omnipresent Willie Dixon, who plays bass on most of these cuts, and the Wolf himself, and while few of these songs are as well-known as Muddy Waters' "Hoochie Coochie Man" or Elmore James' "Dust My Broom", they are quite as magnificent.
Wolf's tough "Who's Been Talkin'" is an incredibly gritty tour de force set to a thumping rhumba beat, and Dixon's horn-driven rave-up "Hidden Charms" features perhaps the greatest guitar solo ever comitted to tape, courtesy of Jimmy Page's and Eric Clapton's hero (as stated by themselves), the extraordinary Hubert Sumlin.

Other highlights include "Forty-Four", the eerie "Smokestack Lightnin'", the slide guitar-driven "Little Red Rooster" and the phenomenal "Killing Floor", written by Howlin' Wolf, shamelessly stolen by Led Zeppelin and covered by several others, but never surpassed, and featured here in the ultimate version, propelled by an incredibly catchy guitar riff by Hubert Sumlin, and with Buddy Guy on acoustic rhythm guitar.

Almost every song is a highlight, actually. This CD is a corner stone in any serious blues collection...hard-rocking, bone-crunching electric blues, burning with the sheer ferocity of Chester Burnett's incredible voice.
There was never anyone quite like the Wolf, and it doesn't seem likely that there will be."
Some of the best blues that money can buy
Laszlo Matyas | 12/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"With his demonic charisma and bone-chilling voice, Howlin' Wolf was one of the towering figures of the blues, a performer whose greatest moments served as electric counterparts to the incantations of Robert Johnson. As this 20 track compilation proves, the Wolf was one of the Chicago blues' most distinctive and darkly brilliant figures; his performances (and those of his superb backing bands) were pure atmosphere, full of late-night swagger and claustrophobic paranoia, with distorted guitars sneaking their way through gin soaked piano lines and uneasy rhythms. It was a raw, cathartic sound, characterized y manic joy and barely subdued fear. The result is one of the greatest bodies of work in the history of blues music.

These 20 tracks can attest to that- the apocalyptic "Moanin' At Midnight" kicks off the proceedings wonderfully, setting the stage for the furious surrealism of "Smokestack Lightnin''" and the hulking sexuality of "Back Door Man." "Wang Dang Doodle" is as divinely deranged as any rockabilly track, and "Spoonful" is an absolutely spine-shredding slow burner, with a vocal performance that drips sexual innuendo. "Killing Floor" is a slinky, rhythmic strut, and "Evil" is as menacing as its title. This is a classic blues disc, and an essential purchase for anyone who doesn't already have these songs."
Bare-Knuckles Chicago Blues At Its Very Finest
Art and Music | 02/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Howlin' Wolf remains one of the greatest and most beloved of all urban blues singers, and this recording shows why. His rough-timber moaning and growling style was his alone, and it perfectly captured the essence of the blues songs he so capably interpreted.

His roots were in the Mississippi country blues, but he achieved fame in Chicago during the Golden Age postwar era of the late 40s and into the 1950s. In Chicago, the Wolf's raw, guts-and-gravel blues singing proved the perfect vehicle for the classic blues songs of Willie Dixon and others. This was was a singer who was understood by the downtrodden folks who seeked relief in the rough, smoke-filled juke joints on the southside of Chicago.

Howlin' Wolf could-and still can-mesmerize a listener with primal one-chord songs such as "Smokestack Lightnin' " or "Spoonful." He could brag and swagger with "Red Rooster" and "Back Door Man." Humor and frivolity were expressed in songs such as "Wang Dang Doodle" and "Three Hundred Pounds of Joy." His country-blues roots are showcased with "Sitting on Top of the World."

And the Wolf could rock, too. Departing from the shuffle blues beat, his sixteenth-note based "Killing Floor" is a funky rouser that is an exhilerating exercise for musicians and audiences too. But to his credit, he never sold out to junk, boutique rock, and he apparently resisted ill-advised efforts to steer him in that direction in the late '60s.

Howlin' Wolf didn't care for fancy trimmings in music, and his "don't let me catch you in the alley" sound was perfectly supported by the excellent musicians who play here. Hubert Sumlin's slicing, off-the-wall blues-scale guitar licks are exciting, and a perfect fit for Wolf's bare-knuckles approach.

This is urban blues at its very finest. I have been listening to Howlin' Wolf for over 40 years and it is never less than fascinating to re-visit his recordings. For raw vocal power, he ranks with Bessie Smith, who as you know got her start in the pre-microphone days when singing required serious lung power.

Congratulations and thanks to Geffen Records for the excellent work they have done with this important recording. Highly, highly recommended to listeners and also emerging blues musicians who want to study the real thing."