John Lee Hooker Gets the Box-Set Treatment
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
It's hard to overstate the importance of blues man John Lee Hooker. He has inspired and influenced just about every rock guitarist in the last 40 years. Now, Tom Terrell has a review of a new retrospective box set titled simply "Hooker."
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
TOM TERRELL: When I flash on John Lee Hooker, I see a very cool black man of an indeterminate age, sporting a white guitar, white Homburg, white three-piece suit and very black shades, shaking the house on down, with a steamy chunk of "Boogie Chillun."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "BOOGIE CHILLUN")
JOHN LEE HOOKER: (Singing) Well my mama she didn't 'low me, just to stay out all night long, oh Lord -
TERRELL: Born in 1917 to Mississippi sharecroppers, John Lee Hooker paid his dues playing guitar on Memphis street corners, singing gospel with the Fairfield Four and rocking electric rhythm and blues at Detroit rent parties.
Out of that came the five-decades-worth of rock 101, talking blues boogies songs compiled in the new "Hooker" box set. "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" alone has profoundly influenced every British guitar hero that's ever rocked the 12-bar blues shuffle the right way.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "ONE BOURBON, ONE SCOTCH, ONE BEER")
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONE BOURBON, ONE SCOTCH, ONE BEER")
LEE HOOKER: (Singing) One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer. One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer. Hey mister bartender come here. I want another drink and I want it now. My baby she gone, she been gone two night. I ain't seen my baby since night before last. One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer.
TERRELL: With just three primal guitar chords, feet stomping hard beats and a quavering baritone moan, John Lee Hooker invented a new black pop sound that was of the blues, yet way beyond blues. A sound that would anoint him muse for Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and generations of hard rockers to come.
Check out "The Healer," his 1989 collaboration with Carlos Santana.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "THE HEALER")
TERRELL: It's classic, slow-burning Santana mambo rock, until the Hook steps to the mic a minute and a half in and rumbles, blues is the healer, all over the world. Bam. Game over.
LEE HOOKER: (Singing) It healed me. It can heal you. The blues can heal you early one morning. It can heal you. The blues can heal you. Yeah, yeah.
TERRELL: John Lee Hooker passed away five years ago. He may not have been the best blues singer, guitar player or songwriter, but as the "Hooker" box set affirms track after track, he was the greatest blues man of them all.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BOOM BOOM")
LEE HOOKER: (Singing) Boom, boom, boom, boom. I'm gonna shoot you right down -
SIEGEL: The boxed set of John Lee Hooker's music is called "Hooker." Our reviewer is Tom Terrell.
LEE HOOKER: (Singing) - just come into my house. Boom, boom, boom, boom. A- haw, haw, haw, haw. Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm. Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm. I love to see you strut up and down the floor. When you talking to me - that baby talk. I like it like that. Woah, yeah.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.