RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

John Lee Hooker – Kabuki Wuki/Born in Mississippi, Raised Up in Tennessee
BGO Records


Rating: C

BGO Records has released two early ‘70s albums by the legendary John Lee Hooker.  While admittedly not his best albums, they both still show this man did more than play the blues, he lived them. On these offerings, Hooker pumped out a slow moving steam engine of blues music that never picks up too much speed, yet keeps things chooglin’ along just fine.

Kabuki Wuki is the better of the two albums included on this two-disc package.  This is a classic live set that saw a Hooker show captured at the Kabuki Theater in San Francisco.  The music is moody and morose.

John sells it in his vocal delivery and the band moves along like a slow cooked slab of ribs.  It may not thrill you, but when it’s all said and done, the meat just falls off the bone.

Born in Mississippi, Raised Up in Tennessee continues the same type of feeling but takes it from the stage to the studio.  The beat moves about, slowly and carefully; Hooker’s vocals keep you on the edge of your seat, yet the pace does get to you after a while as you simply beg John Lee and band to get you on your feet.  It just never happens, despite an appearance on the album by none other than the great Van Morrison.

Both of these albums would probably rank higher in, say, Colorado, where one could enhance the music with some legal herb as this is stoner rock, done up blues style.

At the end of the day remember this: a “C” rating for John Lee Hooker means that it may be better than the average album, yet when placed against his best, these two just fall somewhere in the middle.  Still worthy of a listen, just not the chosen album by most of his fans.

CD 1 - Kabuki Wuki
01. Your Love (Just A Little Bit) (5:29)
02. Hold It (0:45)
03. Look At The Rain (8:24)
04. My Best Friend (5:15)
05. Hit The Floor (5:46)
06. A Little Bit Higher (5:26)
07. I Wonder Why (4:38)
08. If You Got A Dollar (4:50)

CD 2 - Born In Mississippi, Raised Up In Tennessee
01. Born In Mississippi, Raised Up In Tennessee (5:56)
02. How Many More Years You Gonna Dog Me Round (5:20)
03. Going Down (9:18)
04. Younger Stud (8:42)
05. King Of The World (6:05)
06. Tell Me You Love Me (5:59)

By Jeb Wright