3/29/15

John Lee Hooker - The "That's Where It's At" session (1953)



My fave JLH session any period any style. Gathered on one LP. If you had to have one Hooker album, it should be this one. Catch it here.

This is the first post of a series about John Lee Hooker, my favorite bluesman so far. His discography is really a nighmare for those who want to listen in chronological order to his sessions since recordings are spread on various compilations, often wrongly dated, as (surely) the one presented today. If I begin with this one, it's because it's one of my favorites and considered so by many Hookers amateurs. Released in LP format in 1979 on Stax under the title of That's Where It's At (I kept the title but changed the cover sleeve I did myself), it was said to be recorded in Miami in 1961, but many connoisseurs thought Stax had only bought this session to the produced Henry Stone and, judging by the music John Lee Hooker plays on it, was more probably recorded during summer 1953, just after another session in Miami released by Atlantic under the name of Don't Turn Me From Your Door. Actually, 4 songs of this Atlantic album, and in particular the eponymous song, were from this second sessions and missed on the Stax album. So here are the 14 (in the order of recording such as stated by some reliable sources) that should have been on the Stax LP of 1969 and not even included in the CD version. Is still missing "Talking about my baby", which features only on a split album with Lightnin' Hopkins I never localized. I must say I have almost a hundred CDs or LPs from John Lee Hooker but this is not enough to cover all his sessions. But back to the music. Here John Lee is only backed by a bassist (maybe Steve Alaimo but not sure he's the only one throughout the session) and he provides the quintessence of muddy and swamp blues, nothing less that what Creedence Clearwater Revival would cultivate 15 years later. I even see something as the beginning of sludge in this dirty sound and slow pace. If blues has to be modern, it's here I find it to be, not in pale copies of white guys playing the rock 'n roll stars.



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5 comments:

Starsailor said...

salut, il me semble qu'il y a une petite erreur : l'année de parution de l'album est 69 et non 79.

dk said...

Effectivement. Mon erreur vient du fait que j'ai la réédition chez Fantasy qui elle est parue en 1979. Etrangement, c'est la date qu'ils ont mis sur la réédition CD parue il y a 10 ans. Raison pourquoi je l'ai écrit. Ceci dit, le problème de date qui importe concernant cette séance, ce n'est pas celle de la sortie de l'album (due à des considérations mercantiles) mais celle de l'enregistrement qui oscille entre 53 et 61 selon les sources et sur laquelle je prends position.

Anonymous said...

After listening to the sample clip I'm heading straight to Ebay to find a CD of Thats Where It's At!

Quibus said...

Thanks a bunch for your Hooker fake albums. How I wish record companies were so sincere

pipzing said...

dk
a have a good amount of JLH but the rawness of the sessions you loaded are astounding. thanks very much for this and your time.