Thursday, April 3, 2008

CD Review: Boom Boom

3) Same Old Blues Again
4) Sugar Mama
5) Trick Bag
6) Boogie At Russian Hill
7) Hittin' The Bottle Again
9) Thought I Heard
10) I Ain't Gonna Suffer No More
Like all truly great artists, John Lee Hooker had a distinct style that creeped its way into everything he did.  I'm not saying that all his songs sounded the same, though.  In fact, this album displays just how versatile the blues genre can be.
I'm going to guess that "Boom Boom" is the only song here you MIGHT know.  Sure, it's the big hit and title track, but keep listening, because if you liked that one, you'll love the next nine tracks.  John performed "Boom Boom" with a full band, but "I'm Bad Like Jesse James" follows, where his smoky, half-spoken vocals are accompanied only by his guitar and tapping toes.
This genre was made for jamming, and the crew shows us how blues sounds when done right.  Big names in blues like guitarists Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray, Albert Collins, and harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite, add a different spice to each of their tracks.  Check out Vaughan's twang, Cray's cleanliness, Collins's soaring.
These guys jam with a tight ensemble including, among others, bassist Richard Cousins, drummer Kevin Hayes, and organist Jimmy Pugh.  Hooker and his friends did a great job playing off one another, evident in the flawless backing to the equally impressive solos.  The sweet melodies of the guitar, organ, and harmonica show you why there's nothing better than the blues.
Of course, the true star is Hooker himself.  The man had an amazing ability to entertain even with simple, repetitive songs.  His gritty guitar work and understated vocals send shivers down the spine.  One's education in the blues would be incomplete without this sampling of one of the all-time greats.
****3/4 out of five

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