Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|John Lee Hooker|
John Lee Hooker Sings Blues
Genres: Country, Blues, Jazz, Pop, R&B, Rock
IMPORT-JPN LMTD ED./PAPER SLEEVE
IMPORT-JPN LMTD ED./PAPER SLEEVE
Pitoucat | UK | 09/26/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Those of you who were around in the 1960s and '70s will probably remember the Ember label, which provided a budget priced LP outlet in the UK for many blues artists, including Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James, Lightnin' Hopkins, Smokey Hogg, and John Lee Hooker, licensed from some of the independent American labels.
Ember have now linked up with TKO Magnum Music to reissue a batch of their old releases in mid-price CD format. They feature the same front covers, issue numbers and sleeve-notes as before, together with an extended piece by Ember boss Jeffrey Kruger on how he launched Ember Records as an offshoot of his then fashionable Flamingo Club. Unfortunately, they also have the same meagre playing time as the original LPs.
This John Lee Hooker set was first issued by Ember in 1964, taken from a King LP of recordings made in 1949/50 for Joe Von Battle. The previous year Hooker had found early fame when his first recordings for Bernie Besman, including the huge hit 'Boogie Chillen', were sold to Modern Records, so for the King releases Hooker went under the pseudonym of Texas Slim. They all originally appeared as 78s on the King label, and featured a primitive, doom-laden style which is amongst Hooker's very best, together with a couple of the most exciting boogies he ever committed to wax ('Slim's Stomp' and 'Devil's Jump'). Von Battle was infamous for the rough quality of his recordings, and these are no exception. Recorded in the back room of his record store on Detroit's Hastings Street, 'Don't Go Baby' (an excellent treatment of 'Baby Please Don't Go') is notable for the clearly audible entrance and exit of a vociferous customer, complete with door-slamming. However, the sheer beauty of the music more than compensates for the dodgy sound, said to have been Cedared on this CD issue, although audibly little different to that on the original Ember LP release.
In fact, King had acquired 16 recordings by Hooker, the other four from a December 1948 session. When King attempted to issue them all on LP in 1961, these first four recordings were accidentally replaced by four from Earl Hooker, and that's presumably why the Ember release of the LP, and the present CD, contain only 12 tracks. The primitive quality of the music prompted King to immerse the recordings in heavy echo for LP release, and also to dub drums onto two tracks ('Don't You Remember Me' and 'Late Last Night') in an apparent attempt to enhance and 'modernise' the sound. Both echo and drums therefore also appear on the Ember releases, which is disappointing. Back in 1973, in their Juke Blues LP series, Polydor issued Hooker's complete 16 King recordings with the original undubbed 78 sound, and the additional clarity, minus drums and echo distortion, is remarkable. This LP is long deleted, of course, and to the best of my knowledge the undubbed versions have never appeared on CD. How about it, somebody?
The complete 16 King tracks were recently available on a CD entitled 'Don't You Remember Me', first on Charly, and now on the King Masters label, without drums, but still with echo. Perhaps Ember, in their quest to reissue their old albums unchanged have missed a golden opportunity to put things right here. Also, since the King Masters CD sells for a few quid less than the Ember, and gives you four more tracks, this might well be the preferred way to acquire this outstanding music -- at least, until the echo-free version comes along on CD.