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The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions

4.5 out of 5 stars 119 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 22, 1994
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Editorial Reviews

You won't find this album anywhere on CD except for this pricey gold disc version, which is pretty sneaky of MCA, but also means it sounds great! This is the album that paired the Wolf with British blues-rockers Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, Steve Winwood, Charlie Watts, etc. with terrific results. Also includes tracks from the never-reissued Muddy and the Wolf: London Revisited album.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 22, 1994)
  • Original Release Date: November 22, 1994
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Chess
  • ASIN: B000002OAZ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,758 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
When you take Howlin' Wolf-one of the greatest Chicago bluesmen ever-and put him together with Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and Steve Winwood, what do you get? You get one exciting blues album. I read somewhere that blues purists don't like this album, but I know from listening to it that this is pure, electric, energetic, rockin' blues.
The album starts off strong; the first thing you hear is Clapton's beautiful slide guitar riff on "Rockin' Daddy." On this track, we have Phil Upchurch on bass, Winwood on piano, The Wolf's long time lead guitarist Hubert Sumlin on rhythm guitar, Charlie Watts on drums, and The Wolf himself singing the vocals in his famous growling stlyle. We hear a wonderful solo from Clapton, who plays off the melody of the tune beautifully.
Ringo plays drums on "I Ain't Superstitious" and the results are awesome. With a horn section (Joe Miller, Jordan Sandke, Dennis Lansing) holding the roots of the chords, and Clapton playing a slide riff to back The Wolf's vocals, we get a truly great jam.
The rest of the album is as exciting has the first two songs. We hear Jeffrey M. Carp's soulful harp on "Sittin' On Top Of The World," and The Wolf's vocals are just as astounding. Clapton adds another creative solo, again playing off the beautiful melody of the song. Later in the album, we hear the amusing Willie Dixon tune "Built For Comfort" in which the horn section mentioned before adds its unique touch. "Highway 49" is one of the highlights of the album, with classic guitar riffs and The Wolf's soulful, bluesy singing. You get the feeling that no one could sing this song like The Wolf. Basically, when buying blues, you can't go wrong with Howlin' Wolf. Overall, this album is excellent. It is a beautiful display of classic blues performed by an all-star cast.
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Format: Audio CD
Given the drubbing over the years by purists and other blues snobs who never liked the idea of impressionable rock-star Brits recording with their American blues legend masters, I expected this disc to sound as bad as other entries in this genre, such as the Chuck Berry London sessions. Surprise!! It's a lot better than expected.

Pinned by Wolf's regular guitarist and joined by an on-fire Eric Clapton, these recordings are spirited, enjoyable, and go down real easy. Stevie Winwood contributes solid organ/piano lines,and the bass and drum support of Stones engines Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman is effortless and in the pocket.

Why the criticism? I think it's mostly intellectual, rather than visceral. Yes, Wolf has sounded better, and the concept is a bit cute, but the results speak for themselves and stand the test of time. This is a comfort album, more for kicking back and enjoying the groove, rather than for someone looking for the definitive performance by any of the participants.

One point mentioned by a fellow reviewer with which I totally agree: The "bonus" disk is a shameless attempt to charge double the normal price for this re-release. There's nothing in it worth paying for. The best part of the rehearsal sessions is actually on the original release, where a cranky Wolf shows Clapton how to properly play the slide guitar....priceless, memorable, and one of the small charms of this album.
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Format: Audio CD
After the success of Muddy Waters' Fathers and Sons album, Chess Records decided to do something similar with Howlin' Wolf. So, they got young rock stars like Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts to record with Wolf. The results were good, although not as good as Wolf's older recordings. Practically all of these songs had been recorded by Wolf before, in better versions. Wolf's voice was not quite as strong as it once was, and the younger musicians didn't quite mesh with Wolf as well as the old bluesmen he usually worked with did. But this is still an enjoyable album that blues fans should enjoy.
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Format: Audio CD
Howlin' Wolf sings his classic songs. The Rolling Stones rhythm section of Wyman & Watts. Clapton plays lead guitar & Stevie Winwood handles the keyboards. Really, is there any way this could have gone wrong? Well, it didn't. The band never would have forgiven themselves if they'd screwed it up.
If you had taken Wolf out of the equation, these guys probably could not have fit their swollen heads & bloated egos into the same room. But they did it for Wolf, & they did it the right way.
Clapton's lead lines, fills & solos were creative without getting showy -- he worked to make every song better without making it the Eric Clapton show. Wyman & Watts had it the easiest, since they always checked their egos at the door w/the Stones while pushing the beat. Winwood contented himself to just be a sideman for an entire album, which may have been the biggest surprise of all.
So, is this a Blues album or a Rock album? Either or both. In fact, it is the best evidence available of how little difference there could be between the two, properly approached. OK, it may be just the teensiest bit too antiseptic to be a genuine Blues album. That having been said, it is perfect for what it is. The acolytes giving props to the elder master, helping him to a late career payday that he surely needed, and the master acknowledging that (as we say on the South Side these days) the kids could play. All concerned acquitted themselves honorably.
It sounded great in the '70's, & still does.
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