Monday, May 19, 2014

Earl Hooker -- "Wah Wah Blues"

Hello and a happy Monday to all.

I started the day with the Temptations, continued with some reggae, and finally arrived at the blues ... Don't have the blues, though. There's nothing blue about today's track. Blogging from my patio again,  I can't believe how amazing this track sounds outdoors with trees rustling in the background and birds "whistling" along.

Whoever listens to Earl Hooker 's guitar must admit that many a popular blues guitarist has been hopelessly overrated. B.B. King considers him the "best of modern guitarists," and what else is there to be said? Except maybe that I consider Albert King the absolut greatest of them all. But that's, of course, only an amateur's choice ...

Earl Hooker, cousin of John Lee Hooker, was born January 15, 1929 near Clarksdale, MS (of course, it was Mississippi). His parents moved to Chicago when he was one year. He died in Chicago at the early age of 41 of tuberculosis which had plagued him since childhood. He also was afflicted by severe stuttering which kept him from singing, it is said. I can imagine he compensated for this handicap by becoming the virtuoso on the guitar he undoubtedly was.

According to Wikipedia  Earl Hooker began recording in 1952  "for several independent record companies. His early singles were often credited to the vocalist he recorded with, although some instrumentals(and his occasional vocal) were issued in Hooker's name. Songs by Hooker and with blues and R&B artists, including Johnny O'Neal, Little Sam Davis, Boyd Gilmore, Pinetop Perkins,The Dells, Arbee Stidham, Lorenzo Smith, and Harold Tidwell were recorded by such labels as King, Rockin', Sun, Argo, Veejay, States, United, and C.J. (several of these recordings, including all of the Sun material, were unissued at the time). The harmonica player, Little Arthur Duncan, often accompanied Hooker over this period.[8]
Among these early singles was Hooker's first recorded vocal performance on an interpretation of the blues classic "Black Angel Blues". Although his vocals were more than adequate, they lacked the power usually associated with blues singers.[9] Hooker's "Sweet Angel" (1953 Rockin' 513) was based on Robert Nighthawk's 1949 "Black Angel Blues" and showed that "Hooker had by now transcended his teacher".[10] (B.B. King later had a hit in 1956 with his interpretation, "Sweet Little Angel".) One of Hooker's most successful singles during this period was "Frog Hop", recorded in 1956 (Argo 5265). The song, an upbeat instrumental, showed some of his T-Bone Walker swing-blues and chording influences, as well as his own style.[11]

So here is "Wah Wah Blues," one of my favorites by Earl Hooker.


And just in case you can't get enough, this is a fantastic Earl Hooker Youtube clip. 



4 comments:

Marc said...

No 'Wah Wah Blues'

When I catched Earl Hooker he'd busted his wah - wah pedal.It was straight pickin' and slidin' all the way.He performed a great version of Robert Nighthawk's 'Anna Lee' :-)

Greetings,
Marc

Raggedy said...

Hi Marc! I've read about Earl Hooker's cover of that song. Do you happen to know whether the vocals on "Sweet Black Angel" on The Bugs and A Roach album are actually those of Earl Hooker? Or, do you know of any recording where he actually sang himself?

Marc said...

Hello,

Yes,Earl is the vocalist on 'Sweet Black Angel'
For more information see the 'Earl Hooker Discography'
http://www.wirz.de/music/hookearl.htm

Later,
Marc

Raggedy said...

Thanks a lot. Btw., Stefan Wirz's site is awe inspiring. What some people do for the love of music is amazing.

Inge