Jazz CD Reviews

John Lee Hooker Jr. – Live In Istanbul, Turkey – CCE

Blues For Today

Published on August 6, 2010

John Lee Hooker Jr. – Live In Istanbul, Turkey – CCE

John Lee Hooker Jr. – Live In Istanbul, Turkey – CCE 92009, 64:20 ****:

(John Lee Hooker Jr., vocals; Darrell Fields, bass; Mike Roger, drums; Jeff Horan, guitar; James Anderson, keyboards; Mike Rinta, trombone; Frankie Bailey, trumpet; Frank Thibeaux, bass, vocals; KT Turner, vocals; John Garcia, guitar; Will Griffin, keyboards; Elpher Legaspi, organ, vocals; Angelo Santi, guitar; Joe Cohen, saxophone; Pam Hawkins, vocals)

John Lee Hooker Jr.’s latest release on Steppin’ Stones Records, Live In Istanbul Turkey is a hard big-band blues album with a deft musical touch that doesn’t avoid dealing with topical issues. Often blues lyrics can be generic, telling universal tales of struggle and love lost. While these songs can appeal to anyone, they sometimes lack the immediacy of songs which discuss, in detail, the problems facing us today. Hooker sings about foreclosures and ponzi schemes, the recession and politics, making his lyrics just as biting as his grooves.

Hooker proves his chops with a vicious twelve bar blues at the beginning of the album. Suspicious features Hooker’s tight horns section playing off Darrell Fields on bass, while lead guitarist Jeff Horan sound positively unhinged. Anytime he is given any space he flies off the lid with an intense solo.

It’s A Shame, Fed Up, and Wait Until My Change Come form the heart of the album. All of them are tough blues numbers about people who’ve hit the bottom rung of this recession. In It’s A Shame, a man struggles with homelessness while his son turns to drug dealing, while in Fed Up a man’s friends turn against him in his time of need. Wait Until My Change Come is the story of a jet-setter who has lost everything and is waiting until his luck turns around.  Later in the album Hooker pays tribute to his father with an unadorned, hard-driving version of Boom Boom.

Live In Istanbul Turkey is a solid blues album that shows how blues is always relevant in the worst of times.

TrackList: Introduction, Suspicious, People Want A Change, It’s A Shame, Fed Up, Funky Funk, You Make My Life Brand New, They Hatin’ On Me, One Eye Opened, Wait Until My Change Come, Maudie, Boom Boom, Doin’ The Boogie, Talk Too Much

- Ethan Krow




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