Collector’s Corner

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Still Chillun

28 MAR 12 DAVID SHANNON

The live 19-track release Boogie Chillun contains the John Lee Hooker album of the same name, which originally came out in 1972 (10 years after it was recorded), as well as Live At Sugar Hill, released in 1963.

The first 10 tracks on this Fantasy collection, taken from Sugar Hill, are recordings of Hooker alone with his guitar. The album opens with “I Just Can’t Hold On,” and one listen reveals why Hooker was covered by so many artists, from contemporaries like R.L. Burnside and ‘70s heavies such as Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, to modern-day acts like The White Stripes and The John Spencer Blues Explosion. Hooker plays and sings with an emotional, plaintive feeling on the song, at times matching the tone of his voice with the notes on his guitar -- an octave or two apart -- a trademark for which he became well known.

The second set of live tunes, taken from Boogie Chillun, also feature Hooker solo, and from the material here it’s easy to see why his rhythmic brand of country folk was part of the foundation for R&B, which he recorded as a singles artist for many years. In fact, the title track scored Hooker his first #1 R&B hit on the Billboard charts.

I had the privilege of seeing Hooker perform in Santa Cruz, CA, in the mid-‘90s. He sat in a rocker on stage with his guitar in his lap, surrounded by a crack band and an adoring audience, and played “Boogie Chillun,” as well as a handful of other songs from this release. Judging from that performance so late in his career, he never lost his ability to move people with his original sound.



Chick Corea - The Vigil