From Clarksdale To Heaven
Remembering John Lee Hooker
(Eagle Records (2002) WK 23629)
by Craig Ruskey
Review date: November 2002
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
The fact that John Lee Hooker is gone in the physical sense doesn't mean he left us completely; his spirit and influence will forever be a large part of world-wide music culture, as shown in this 14 track, 75-minute disc infused with love and respect. Hooker's daughter Zakiya delivers the opener, "I Want To Hug You" with the help of Bobby Murray's taut guitar and Johnnie Johnson's rolling piano, and (former Cream bassist) Jack Bruce forwards a stirring rendition of "I'm In The Mood" as Gary Moore lays out some searing and warmly distorted six string throughout the song's 6-minute length. "Bad Like Jesse James" from LLC finds Vince Converse offering over-the-top guitar but potent vocals above the sparse backing from Leo Lyons' bass and Ric Lee's drums, then Jeff Beck steps in with a barrage of single- string work on "Will The Circle Be Unbroken," interestingly taken at a quick clip. T.S. McPhee, who used to back Hooker frequently on UK tours with his band, The Ground Hogs, steps up for "Ground Hog Blues" with some fine Delta slide and Dick Hextall-Smith's saxophone but former Rolling Stone, Mick Taylor, seems lazy and vocally uninspired for "This Is Hip." Peter Green stands out superbly with a whiskey-soaked voice and fine harp during "Crawlin' King Snake," backed by Nigel Watson and the Splinter Group, then McPhee returns for a shuffling take on "I'm Leaving," but the squeaking sax detracts instead of adding to the outcome. Gary Brooker pushes a smoldering "Little Wheel" out of the garage with textbook work from Andy Fairweather-Low's guitar, but it's Brooker's piano that that shines here, and "The Business" was written by the Grateful Dead lyric master, Robert Hunter. The familiar light feeling shows through thanks to congas behind Suzanne Sterling's airy vocals. Earl Green out in front for "Hobo Blues" works well for a few minutes as Jeff Beck manages some nice Hubert Sumlin-infused work, but his insistence to hammer the daylights out of the guitar finds the track landing more on the gravel shoulder as opposed to cruising quietly on the pavement. Gary Moore returns for a masterful, hypnotic reading of "Serve Me Right To Suffer," and while he has a tendency to be a bit overbearing at times, this track finds him playing pure and uncluttered blues, perhaps using the same Les Paul that once belonged to Peter Green. The disc closes with John Lee Hooker leading a small band through a 1989 tribute recording on the Jimi Hendrix gem, "Red House." While a number of projects like this have been attempted over the years, all with varying results, most of the cast here plays in a respectful manner leaving pyrotechnics in favor of heartfelt simplicity. The few misses might make for a bit of uneven listening for purists, but overall, "From Clarksdale To Heaven" fares very well and will hopefully spark interest in new listeners to investigate Hooker's extensive catalog. Contact www.bluestormmusic.com for more information on this release and a fine cross-section of other blues-related books and CD's.
Simply click on the CD cover at left to order this CD NOW!
This review is copyright © 2002 by Craig Ruskey, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
Web Design SPECIAL, get your own website for just $50.
You can help support this blues website by making a contribution (click on the banner below for details).
Or mail a donation to: Ray Stiles % Blues On Stage, PO Box 582983, Mpls, MN 55458. Thanks!
Web Hosting & Design:
Web Hosting & Design.
Most affordable web hosting and design services available.
Find out how you can host your current site at Blues On Stage, or how I can help you design your own website!
If you would like your CD reviewed, please send TWO (2) copies, along with promotional material to:
Blues On Stage
PO Box 582983
Minneapolis, MN 55458-2983
E-mail Ray Stiles @ email@example.com with any questions.