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on October 29, 2004
This album is great. The negative reviews are misguided - referring to Wes Montgomery or Charlie Christian is pointless. If you wish to hear technical mastery coupled with great feeling and improvisation - Montgomery and Christian are perfect. If you wish to hear dark intense blues SINGING (NOTE - SINGING), propelled by a primal boogie beat bashed out by old shoes on a wooden board, and with an insistent, hypnotic, fantastically monotonous guitar (which is infinitely inferior in virtuosity to Django or Wes) then buy this CD. If you want to hear something else then buy something else. Simple as.
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on April 3, 2004
If you are looking at these reviews in order to decide if this is a cd worth buying, then the answer is a resounding YES. John Lee Hooker wasn't a guitar virtuoso, but he was a virtuoso bluesman and this cd has some of his best work. If you love the blues, then you need to own this cd (and if you don't love the blues, why are you wasting everyone's time reviewing a blues cd)
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on July 18, 2010
I don't get it. I seriously doubt whether the three 1-Star reviewers own or have ever even listened to this album. They certainly haven't a clue as to when it was recorded (1948-1950), since they refer to "guitarists of the past 30 years". Notice that none of them used a real name. I am quite familiar with the excellent jazz guitarists they mentioned (Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Django Reinhardt) and I would have included Grant Green and Kenny Burrell to that list. Someone also mentioned Andres (not Andre) Segovia, a great classical guitarist. Julian Bream and John Williams were also fine classical guitarists. Were all of these artists better technically than Johnnie Lee? Yes. Does that mean that Hooker didn't make inspired, moving and very good music? Of course it doesn't. If technical perfection was all that was needed to make good music, then Joe Satriani, Eddie Van Halen and the like would be at the top of the heap. I like nearly every kind of music, with the exception of hip-hop, 80's hair bands, techno-synth rock and most anything being recorded today. Every musical genre has its share of excellent guitarists, including the blues. While John Lee Hooker may not have been the best, he could make you "feel it" more than most. I would also add that I'm NOT a far left liberal. To the contrary, I'm fairly conservative. The idea that political ideology has anything to do with advancing blues is preposterous. I guess I should actually say something about this album. It is a very good collection of songs Hooker recorded for Speciality Records between 1948 and 1950, although it's not as good as his Modern recordings. (well I tried to insert the product link, but it didn't work. Just type in Hooker Modern, and it should take you there) If you like Hooker by himself (mostly), this is a good choice of early material. If you prefer him with some backup (usually bass and drums), go for his Vee-Jay recordings.
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on December 3, 2003
Some of these review remind me of when I played Thelonious Monk for my mother. She remarked, "I could play like that before I took lessons." Yeah, Ma, whatever you say...
Those reviews tell me nothing about whether this is a decent Hooker album, which is what I want to know, so I can decide whether to buy this one, or something else from Hooker. I know he mainly plays one chord. But does he play that chord well on this album?
I know, that makes me a "liberal idiot" who can't appreciate Django Reinhardt, and who listens to American roots music because I feel sorry for black people, and I want to do a little affirmative action. Not.
I like Django and I like Hooker. (I like Bach, too, for that matter. Does that make me a polymorphous perverse liberal? And I can't take Pete Seeger or too many other "earnest" folksingers.) I like John Fahey, too, and that's who got me to listen to all these "primitive no-talent three-chord" blues musicians, Skip James, Bukka White, Son House, Robert Johnson...
It reminds me of that Bob Dylan line, "Don't criticize what you can't understand." On the other hand, as Mojo Nixon once sang, "Don Henley Must Die," but then I heard that Henley sang it along with Mojo on stage once. So 10 points for Henley, zero for the Philadelphia fan.
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on January 30, 2003
I can't understand why someone that professes to despise rock and blues music would even buy this album, much less review it. Hooker is quintessential blues. It is simple and redundant and more about attitude than talent. If you don't understand blues - go buy a Lawrence Welk album. Leave John Lee Hooker to people that have some soul - we'll appreciate him even if you don't.
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on October 20, 2007
Well I was a little nervous at first listen. I bought this record(CD...I know... I still call them records, since that's the era I grew up in)about 10 years ago, in a guitar store while purchasing a a few things, and I was looking for something I had never heard before, particularly guitar based. I happened upon this one, and was hoping I'd get lucky and not be dissapointed for my $15 sacrifice. Well after listening to it the first time, I was almost disgusted at what I got..a display of of choppy, one-beat, baby beating a cat with a violin, primitive music...but the more I listened to it it the more it consumed me, and conjured up the true soul of where music comes from. With it's mixture of simple structured- 1 to 2(if your lucky) chords, hypnotic rhythm, and painful lyrical hollaring singing style, JLH conveys his message of blues purety, racial hardtimes of the south, and the simple survial mechanisms of humanity in this cauldron of swampy voodoo boogie, jukejoint gut-bucket blues. I was hoping for a guitar virtuoso, and instead I got a true bluesman...The only downfall is that I wish JLH would play a little slide but nontheless this is the album is downright crude and a perfect example of the gloomy nature of blues music.. . and the one that introduced me to the blues and the gem of my collection. I have not found a more raw bluesman in JLH who single handly invented his own style of music whilst choking the guitar and belting out field worker chants, stomping the floor and a little whistling ta boot... You will not be dissapointed. Get ready to get addicted.
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on August 4, 2006
Branford Marsalis didn't think he played John Coltrane very well, so the tenor saxophonist went to a source that might strike people as odd: John Lee Hooker.

Marsalis, 44, had made some attempts to play Coltrane's "A Love Supreme," but says, "I realized I didn't have enough experience in the blues to play it the correct way. So I decided to study the blues. I started buying records by John Lee Hooker, Son House, Blind Lemon Jefferson and people like that, and really started listening to get that sound together.

"I even made a record with some of those guys -- 'I Heard You Twice the First Time' (1992) -- which has John Lee Hooker and B.B. King on it," he continues. "And it all started to come together." ---excerpt from San Francisco Chronicle article, March 6, 2005
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on February 9, 2003
Amazing, simply amazing!!! Unfortunately, I'm not talking about this review, but by the crass of a "music" fan from Philadelphia.
A music fan would appreciate this CD, not because of any greatness found within the music, but at least for it's historical premises. Yet, now, because I can enjoy this CD, and other music that is made by people who may not be classical or jazz virtuosos, I'm a cultural moron. Blues is about a feeling, a emotion, and in the best culmination of many. What good is music that has no feeling and emotion?? It's like food without flavor. Watch a movie without a score, see if it has the same impact on your senses. A particular music fan seems to believe that my date of birth has something to do with my ability to recognize talent and to appreciate music. I beg to differ, because I apparently can appreciate and recognize much more talent and appreciate much more music than any close-minded "music" fan, from the heaviness of Metallica, to the rawness of John Lee Hooker, to the talent of classical guitarists that no one will ever know, and to the beauty of symphonies that go unrecognized. Is pop-culture's music watered down no-talent music, mostly, yes. But are the gems and diamonds in the rough among the masses, yes, and it doesn't take a 1000 chord changes to have talent.
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on May 26, 1999
Classic Hooker blues, includes everything from "Boogie Chillin'" to material I haven't heard before. Great album man.
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on December 30, 2002
I know that blues is a simple musical form---typically three chords, twelve bars over and over again. But this guy John Lee Hooker is really overrated to the point of being ridiculous. I must say that the democratization of musical tastes in the past thirty or so years has created two generations of music fans who have no idea of genuine virtuoso guitar-playing. Since the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in 1964, any purple-haired, nose-ringed delinquent who can play the A, D, and E chords at ear-shattering volume considers himself or herself an authority on guitars and guitarists. Sadly, none of these nontalents has ever heard of Eddie Lang, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Charlie Christian or any other truly brilliant guitarist. To them, John Lee Hooker and his decendants---Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Kieth Richards, etc., are "great guitarists." As is the sad case with virtually everything nowadays, mediocre and just plain untalented performers are glorified because young people have no sense of history----thus, they have only the multitude of three-chord wonders of the past thirty years to use as barometers of talent and ability. Those who worship at the alters of conspicuously limited guitarists like John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson haven't a clue as to the true meaning of musicality. Currently, we live in a society of mediocrity and overblown personalities because most people (especially the younger generations) are simply too unsophisticated and poorly educated to discern real musicianship from blaring volume, inane lyrics, unmelodic "songs," and cartoonish concert histrionics. The hippie generation and their mindless progeny have posited a cultural and intellectual equivalance of all artistic and musical forms---so we have now reached the point where the term "genius" is ascribed even to those "artists" whose music would once upon a time have appealed only to the lowest common denominator in society. Nowadays, the lowest common denominator is all American society has to offer. Hence, John Lee Hooker----one chord wonder---is a "brilliant musician." God help us.
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