REVIEWS | ALBUMS
Lee Hooker. What a superb labour of love this beautiful packageis.Unlike the squareorportrait dimensionsmostboxsets, this is a hefty landscape productmeasuring25cmx 16cm (that’s about 10½ by 6½ inches in old money.) In addition to the smartly packagedCDsintheir protective sleeves, there’s 60 fascinating pages of reading provided by those who knew the Great Man; Jas Obrecht and Mike Kappus,pluscomments about Hooker by the Great and the Good of subsequentgenerations who owe him so much. The notes include just abouteverything youwant to know about the Crawlin’ KingSnake,with breath-taking photosgoing back to 1948 right through to his final breath on June 21, 2001. It is amazing to think when the hair stands up on the back of your neckhearingtrackone, disc one,1948’sBoogie Chillen, that WW2 had only been over for three years. To think that dark, seductive soundofone sinister guitar and a great clear voicewasonwax whilst we in Britain were stuckwithsickly ballads, novelty songs and the Billy Cotton Band Show makes this reviewer weep. Workingyourwaythrough these100tracksspread over five disks takes time but it’s worth every minute.
Everything youneed’s here; Tupelo Blues, The Motor City is Burning, two versions ofOneBourbon, One Scotch, One Beer, two further renditions ofBoogie Chillen (one with Eric Clapton). Disk four ramps up the excitement because all the tracks are live performances, but on disc five you get the full measureofthemassive respect Hooker was held in by his peers. Those final fifteen tracks feature him with a who’s who of artists, including The Groundhogs,Canned Heat, JoeCocker,Bonnie Raitt, VanMorrison, Jimmie Vaughan and even Los Lobos. This set is an epic project whichany blues fan needs to own. Like any good book this is hard-backed, inspiring to hold and a thrill to open up; and the deeply textured contents are rock-solid history. There aremanysubsequent bluesmen who have attempted to emulate John Lee’s style; few have totally succeeded, with notable exceptions suchasTony T.S. McPhee or Dave Kelly. Trying to replicate Hooker’s atomic energy is like trying to capture a hurricane in a bottle. Oddly enough, we all end up in a box at the end, but for your work to end up in a box such as this can only comeaboutthrough greatness. And that’s exactly what John Lee Hookerpossessedin abundance.Treatyourself to the thrills available here; you’ll not be sorry. ROY BAINTON
BAD LUCK WOMAN & HER MISFORTUNES CURSED INDEPENDENT The Bad Luck Woman in question is the talented lead singer andbass player RahaJavanfar. She brings a new slant on
ROB PICAZO SPANISH MOSS GOOD MAN For a blues singer as young as Rob Picazo he shows no little talent and an awful lot of confidence. He is only 24buthismusicaljourney started with the likes of Peter Green and Stevie Winwood but he found his own heart with artists such as Ray Charles and Sam Cooke. His vocal style has touchesof theNew Orleans pioneers but with a strong edgefromChicago and Memphis. The album features a lot of horn play and there is a really fresh and happy sound to the album,especially Harry Whitty’s piano on Why Do I Cry? He is not afraid to old interpretations of 50s and 60s style blues and rhythm and blues tunes. Her delivery is sassy and full of innuendoanddouble engendersbringingan uptempo and overall joyous infectious take to these ten mainly cover tunes on this fine debut release. She is backed by Fraser Melvin on lead guitar particularly grooving on The Way You Love.AndrewMoljgun supplies subtle saxophone licks especially notedon the tune I Don’tKnow AboutYou.Jonathan Hyde keeps the drum take on a ballad either as I Need A Woman (Who Doesn’tNeedAMan) shows – a classic slow dancer. TheNewOrleans traits ring true again in So Uninspired, another slow numberwithdelicious guitar fromMrPicazo and a haunting tone that sentmebacktoimmerse myself in the number a fair few time. On the more up-temponumberssuch as Late Night Train his voice takes on the Spanish HarlemthicknessofWilly DeVille and I really felt that he has that soul and presence. The British blues scene has plenty of artists playing a classic r&b style buthebringssomething very fresh and – hell, yes, happy to his music. It is a pretty damn fair debut album and it makes me really want to see him live – good songwriting and some fine vocals should be even better live. ANDYSNIPPER
CELEBRATING BLUES FOR 20 YEARS
ISSUE 100 BLUES MATTERS! 93