John Lee Hooker: Black Snake

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ImageThough John Lee Hooker’s fame derives largely from performances that offer a citified approach to the country blues, the sparsely accompanied vocals on this reissue of 1959–60 recordings showcase an equal facility for unadulterated Delta material. A savage number that recalls “Boom Boom,” “Gonna Use My Rod” offers some of the most stinging guitar and convincingly menacing vocals I’ve ever heard. And while such similarly foreboding originals as “I Need Some Money” and “Good Mornin’ Lil’ School Girl” have been frequently covered, the versions here are uniformly definitive. All in all, a magnificent collection.

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