Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Howlin' Wolf live

In many ways, Chester Burnett was a blues giant. Not just in status but in girth- 300 lbs. of joy indeed. In 1962, Chess records put out his classic self-titled album (aka the Rocking Chair album) and two years later, a live show in Germany took place when Wolf was in his mid-50's. This show is now out on Acrobat Records as Howlin' Wolf's Rockin' the Blues: Live In Germany 1964 This was done as part of his label's Euro-tour to promote its roster as... folk artists? Well, you gotta remember that at the time, along with the Fabs taking over the pop world, folkies were also a music craze that the label was trying to milk (even if it was one that would soon be overshadowed).

Featured in the band is his ever-faithful side-kick Hubert Sumlin on guitar plus bassist Willie Dixon (one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century too, by the way) alongside pianist Sunnyland Slim and drummer Clifton James. Wolf is in good howl (sorry, couldn't resist), Sumlin deals out some tasty guitar licks and Slim adds some rollicking keyboard playing. While you don't get the full greatest hits package (no "Smokestack Lightin'" or "Spoonful" or "Evil"), you do get a romping take on "Shake It For Me," a slow-burning "Love Me," a drum-heavy version of "Dust My Broom" that doesn't make you miss Elmore James' original and my personal favorite of Wolf's catalog, "Going Down Slow" (with Dixon's speech intact here though it's done by Wolf this time). Also, compared to the shortened versions on his singles and albums, Wolf and the band stretch four of the nine tracks past the five minute mark.

A fine addition to the man's catalog but please make sure you get that Rocking Chair album if you don't have it already. It's even paired with another classic, Moanin' in the Moonlight, on CD.


Post a Comment

<< Home