I first experienced John Lee Hooker on The Blues Brothers movie, playing on the street during the Maxwell Street scene. I thought it was the coolest thing....I loved his gruff vocals, that driving boogie beat, and the "How How How How" growl. I definitely wanted to know more about him once I saw and heard him.
As impressive as that lineup sounds, I was more impressed with Hooker, sitting on a stage all by his lonesome, playing in front of a couple thousand people, who remained basically silent during his performance (something that you don't always get to experience these days at live shows.....not sure why people pay big bucks to hear an act and then they don't even bother to listen to said act). He was mesmerizing.
Since that performance, I've been a fan. Over the years, I've picked up several albums and I listen to him a lot, but it seems like mostly late at night. Thirty years ago, when I used to drive around late at night on hot summer nights down dusty dirt roads (pre marriage and family), I loved to listen to a cassette of John Lee Hooker.......that seemed to be the best setting for his moody brand of blues.
The hardest thing for me to do this week was pick out just three essential recordings by Hooker. The man recorded an unbelievable number of songs over a half century of performing. As on our previous "essential recording" posts, we limit it to single-disc sets. Also, remember that these are FBF’s essential three.....your essentials may be different and we'd love to hear from you about your choices.