We are midway through a full weekend of BHM hits, with one more to come after this.
Today we'll go possibly as deep into The Blues as can be gone, with one of the idiom's towering and shamanic practitioners mesmerizing a college audience into a trance 50+ years ago.
Blues history is Black history, and listening to this diamond of the archives, thankfully liberated as part of a series recorded at this university back at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s, you get -- perhaps more than with any other artist of this genre -- an impression that at its best it's all one, long and continuous song flowing like an endless river.
This nearly 90-minute instance of hypnosis using only voice and guitar almost plays like one tune, unspooling over the hour and a half he's onstage.
I'm not even sure he changes key more than once. If at all.
There's something pure and unfiltered about the way John Lee Hooker lowered the Boom Boom on an audience, and the dronetastic vibrations of love, lust, loss and hope he lays on the crowd in this show convey the sense that you are tapping into some eternal vein of expression by eavesdropping on the magical state being induced.
Could it have been recorded better? Sure. Really, this is approaching the bottom limit of what I'll share here in terms of sonic pristineness.
Honestly with sets like this, you just feel overwhelmingly grateful that it was taped at all, and in the degree of quality that it was given the era and the circumstances.
This is like a time machine visit to another world, and the onlisteners at Reed College here in Oregon who were there must remember this performance with lifetime, bucketlist vividity.
John Lee Hooker
Reed College Community Center
01 Letter to My Baby
02 "My Baby's Gone"
03 Serves Me Right to Suffer
04 Maudie, I Miss You So Bad Baby
05 "It's Alright"
07 Night Time Is the Right Time
08 Boom Boom
09 How Many More Years?
11 Crawling King Snake
12 Boogie Chillun
13 Country Boy
14 Hobo Blues
15 Five Long Years
16 I Feel Good
17 Sinner's Prayer
18 "Hey Hey - It's Alright"
19 Come Back Baby
20 "Talk to Me - It's Alright"
Total time: 1:28:56
disc break goes after Track 10
titles in quotes are approximations and may be improvisations
John Lee Hooker - guitar & vocals
mono 1st gen cassettes of the master soundboard reels
retracked by EN, February 2021
474 MB FLAC/February 2021 archive link
I'll get Black here in another 24 with the last for February, and rest assured it will be as Irie as the decals on King Tubby's mixing console.
If you bypass this Bluesy blast on its 51st anniversary, though, I'm afraid it's like the man says and it serves you right to suffer.--J.
8.22.1912 - 6.21.2001