1972 COUNTDOWN… SOME BLUES AND ROOTS

JOHN LEE HOOKER — NEVER GET OUT OF THESE BLUES ALIVE

Exploring an idea he returned to with great success on The Healer (1989), John Lee Hooker invites several guests to join him on this album, including Van Morrison and Elvin Bishop. This See For Miles CD re-issue is a strange beast, including a track from the electric Endless Boogie (1970) and several from a rare collaboration John Lee Hooker Featuring Earl Hooker.

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BESSIE SMITH THE EMPRESS

It’s really something to be able to transcend 1920s recording technology and reach across a century to contemporary listeners, but the magnificent Bessie Smith does just that. This compilation (of course) covers just four years 1924-28 and provides an excellent introduction to The Empress of the Blues. Musicians featured on some of these sides included Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson and Coleman Hawkins.

Another ‘vertical gatefold’. Great artwork.

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BUDDY GUY AND JUNIOR WELLS — PLAY THE BLUES


Recorded in two quite different sessions with two sets of backing musicians—the first included Eric Clapton, the second was the J. Geils Band—this album still manages to thrill to the electric sounds of Buddy Guy’s singing and playing, ably backed by Junior Wells on harmonica and vocals.

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ALEXIS KORNER — BOOTLEG HIM!


One of the great, though lesser known figures of the early British blues explosion of the mid- to late 60s, Alexis Korner’s bands were a kind of clearing house for the up and comers of the scene. This compilation, with its fabulous and totally misleading cover, gives us tracks from various Blues Incorporated line-ups tied together by Korner’s textured voice and sprightly guitar. It’s a good comp, unearthing some unreleased archival material. Names you may recognise who appear on this CD include Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Charlie Watts, Robert Plant, Paul Rogers, Graham Bond, plus future members of Nucleus, Soft Machine and Pentangle. Highlights: the delicate “Dee” featuring John Surman; “I got a woman”; “Hellhound on my tail”.

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ALEXIS KORNER — BOOTLEG HIM!


Below The Salt was where the UK folk-rockers really hit their stride. The arrangements are tight and the energy high—check out their energetic reading of “John Barleycorn”—and if nothing quite matches the brilliance of “Gaudette”, that says more about the surprise hit single than the rest of this hugely enjoyable album. [Released September 1972]

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JOHN RENBOURN — FARO ANNIE


Pentangle guitarist John Renbourn explores beyond the borders of British folk music on this album. There is a good serving of semi-acoustic blues (including an intimate “Come on in my kitchen”) while two of the British folk songs—”Wily o’ Winsbury” and “The Cuckoo”—shine. Many tracks are re-workings of traditional tunes, not an unusual occurrence on such albums. Enjoyable, as all Renbourn’s albums are, but kind of transitional. [Released January 1972]

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LEO KOTTKE — GREENHOUSE


Unlike his legendary 6 & 12 String Guitar album, this solid Kottke album has quite a few songs. Always self-deprecating about his voice, the guitar master has no need to apologise for this entertaining and often charming album. [Released January 1972]

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Do you listen to roots music often? Any of these strike a chord?

30 comments

  1. “Recycling the Blues & Other Related Stuff”, eh? John Lee Hooker was fine bastard whose absurd joke becomes appropriate after a few decades of life and death and offers material for at least two wine-filled evenings full of wild stories: “Endless Boogie” in fact.

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    1. Cheers to “Endless Boogie”. Monumental!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. iwarti · · Reply

    Hooker with Canned Heat is the only album with him I own, and I like it very much. It has a nice, intimate atmosphere, with Hooker complementing the harmonica player accompanying him and providing other comments on the go, and a dedicated microphone for his stomping foot 🙂
    Another Hooker-related album I own (and cannot recommend highly enough) is Hugo Race & Michelangelo Russo – John Lee Hooker’s World Today. These takes on Hooker originals sound like directed by David Lynch 🙂 I saw them live with this material in a very appropriate setting – a small pub in the basement, with some night road trip movie projections to enhance the mood. But if not available live (Hugo is an Australian, I believe, so look out for him), vinyl will do just fine. A proof of the longevity of Hooker’s heritage and a rare example of an innovative take on blues by modern day musicians.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Mr iwarti, lovely to have you visit. Yes, that Hooker ‘n’ Heat album is excellent. I’ve reviewed it here previously. And a modern take on John Lee sounds fascinating!

      ROCKIN’ ALL OVER THE WORLD – INTRO/USA

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  3. The Alexis album might be worth it just for the cover. I like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brilliant art work, isn’t it? Should be prog space rock, I reckon, but the early British blues/blues-rock is good value.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It reminded me a little of the Babe Ruth cover (at least the colors)

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        1. Great get John. They are both early Roger Dean covers.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Then that makes a lot of sense why I liked it!!

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  4. All of these are great. Well done!

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    1. It was enjoyable digging into some blues, Aaron. In particular, I’d forgotten how good Bessie Smith was. Legend.

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      1. Bessie was stunning, for sure. Dig deeper into the blues, there’s a an endless supply of greatness!

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        1. You bet. I have most bases pretty well covered; just don’t write about it much here.

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          1. Hm… I have tons here too and don’t write much about it on KMA… why is this, do you think?

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            1. Now that is a fascinating question. No answers, but some wonderings…

              Are the branches more interesting than the roots?
              Are the similarities of structure across the blues genre so strong that it merges into a whole more than, say, jazz?
              Are some of us drawn to novelty, variation and exploration? We crave surprise over rich predictability, perhaps?

              1000 words, double spaced, on the Principal’s desk tomorrow morning. 😉

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            2. Oh man I’m headed for detention. I think I don’t do it, much like writing about jazz all that often, because I just don’t know how many people much care. They’d recognize names, but talking about differences might be a bit much. I dunno. Maybe I’m not giving folks credit enough but I just sort of assumed that was my thing and I was cool with that.

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            3. I’ve been doing some Instagram these past six months; fair bit of jazz posted there, though mostly well known artists.

              I have planned at least one (probably two) 1972 posts featuring jazz albums. We can gauge reactions. 🙂

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            4. Oooo yes please!!

              Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, it makes sense that Roger Dean did the Alexis Korner cover. My first thought when I saw it was, “It looks like that guy just sailed in from a Yes album cover…” 😉 I’m a big Buddy Guy fan; my first encounter with him, Feels Like Rain (1993) remains a favorite. God bless the man, still touring at age 85. And the subject of a recent documentary as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Buddy Guy’s later albums were great. My ‘go to’ was/is Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues. Saw him live back in the mid-90s. Marvellous showman, strolling into the audience with a 100 foot guitar lead, mimicking rock upstarts like Hendrix, almost never finishing a solo… It was like being invited into a different world.

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  6. loudhorizon · · Reply

    Just about anything Alexis Korner is involved with is ‘gold.’ I love the sound he brought to CCS back in the ’70s … another one off his much overlooked projects.:)

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    1. True! CCS had a B I G sound. I also noticed how many of the Blues Incorporated alumni became Nucelus, another overlooked progressive big band.

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  7. My takeaway from this post: I had no idea about J Geils’ history. I thought they showed up in 1980, knocked out a couple of radio hits and disappeared. I’ll need to delve into their bluesy past.

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    1. Cool, Jeff. That’s what we’re here for. 🙂

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  8. Great stuff here. I’m mostly drawn to John Lee Hooker and Buddy Guy. Interestingly, it was Hooker’s “Boogie Chillin'” that made Buddy Guy pick up the guitar. Now 85 years old, the man continues to be a force of nature, who I’m beyond thrilled to see for the third time next Wednesday at a midsize theater in New Jersey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fantastic. Enjoy the gig, fortunate ticket holder!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks. I look forward to this like a little boy anticipates Christmas! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. The only John Lee Hooker I have is “The Healer” which is a lot of fun & played many times. I think I now have every Steeleye Span (on CDs) except “Below the Salt,” even the ones that seemed to have kind of shaky production values, because every time I think to look online for Salt, the price is jacked up, I’ll keep looking in the used bins.

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    1. Interesting that Below The Salt has become uncommon. Shanachie is the US company, and they’ve pressed the CD several times. It has been issued on CD elsewhere too. The only one I could locate in Aus was pretty expensive too. Still, I reckon it’ll turn up for you in a dig. It’s good to have a hit list. Breton harpist Alan Stivell is on my radar at present.

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