EARL HOOKER - Simply the Best (1999)
Earl Hooker (1929 – 1970) was an American blues guitarist. Hooker was a Chicago slide guitarist in the same league as Elmore James, Hound Dog Taylor, and his mentor, Robert Nighthawk. Some Chicago blues guitarists even consider Hooker to have been the greatest slide player ever.
There's only one complaint to be voiced about this best-of collection, which includes a great deal of material never previously available on CD: the lack of remastering. The scratches and static mar an otherwise crisp and energetic rendition of "Sweet Home Chicago," and may interfere with one's enjoyment of the clean, expressive guitar on "Drivin' Wheel." What can't be denied, however, is the compelling combination of Earl Hooker's virtuosity with an expressiveness that made his guitar solos far more than mere noodling. Just listen to his guitar work on the opening track, Muddy Waters's take on the classic "You Shook Me"--Hooker's guitar complements Waters's smoking vocals perfectly. In addition to much of his own material, chiefly from the late 1960s, this collection also features two tracks recorded with Johnny "Big Moose" Walker, including a slow-burning take on "The Sky Is Crying." He also backs up the late blues-R&B great Charles Brown on "Drifting Blues," and closes with a duet on "If You Miss 'Em... I Got 'Em" with his much more famous second cousin, John Lee. Earl Hooker's never had the name recognition accorded to T-Bone Walker, B.B. King, or others who started trends in the blues or even achieved crossover success. But he's a well-known name among bluesmen themselves, and Simply the Best illustrates why quite handily. 1, 2.
01. You Shook Me - Earl Hooker, Dixon, Willie
02. Frog Hop - Earl Hooker, Hooker, Earl Zeb
03. Tanya - Earl Hooker, Liggins, Joe
04. Messin' Around With the Blues - Earl Hooker, Hooker, John Lee
05. Drivin' Wheel - Earl Hooker, Sykes, Roosevelt
06. Sweet Home Chicago - Earl Hooker, Johnson, Robert
07. Sweet Black Angel - Earl Hooker, McCullem, Robert
08. When I Was Drinkin' - Earl Hooker, Terry, Sonny
09. Universal Rock - Earl Hooker, Hooker, Earl Zeb
10. Don't Have to Worry - Earl Hooker, Hooker, Earl Zeb
11. Come to Me Right Away, Baby - Earl Hooker, Odom, Andrew
12. Hookin' - Earl Hooker, Hooker, Earl Zeb
13. You Got to Lose - Earl Hooker, Hooker, Earl Zeb
14. Would You Babe - Earl Hooker, Walker, Johnny
15. The Sky Is Crying - Earl Hooker, James, Elmore
16. They Call It Storm Monday - Earl Hooker, Walker, T-Bone
17. Farther up the Road - Earl Hooker, Robey, Don
18. Driftin' Blues - Earl Hooker, Brown, Charles
19. If You Miss 'Im...I Got 'Im - Earl Hooker, Hooker, John Lee
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