Picks and Pans Review: Chill Out
John Lee Hooker
The growlin' grandpa of the blues is back, continuing the major-label career resurgence that began with The Healer in 1989, and once again he has brought a few famous friends along for the ride. At first, Carlos Santana's distinctive guitar sound threatens to steal the title track from the star—that is, until Hooker opens his mouth to sing. The album's crowning moment comes when the blues veteran is joined by acolyte Van Morrison for the medley "Serves Me Right to Suffer/Syndicator." The indulgent elder, Hooker stays in the background while the mercurial Irish genius slams his favorite target: record company back stabbers.
The album contains a healthy diet of delta blues with two great new songs, "Woman on My Mind" and "Annie Mae." On these tracks, Hooker is in fine form, with his stark guitar strumming bumping against a voice no one can beat for its world-weary authenticity. After chilling out with the master, you'll understand why Hooker—who turns 75 this year—continues to inspire new generations of "Boogie Chillen." (Pointblank/Virgin)
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