Saturday, February 11, 2017

John Lee Hooker On Campus & Show # 644


John Lee Hooker has many albums. On Campus is one of many albums that Hooker has released. In fact this album was released under three different titles. There is the 1963 album On Campus, I Shout The Blues and Big Band Blues. All issued on different labels. So what makes this album so different from other Hooker albums? Selected at random for the purposes of this radio show, On Campus shows the record company at the time attempting to smooth out and modernize Hooker’s gritty blues sound. However, the music that is underneath the productions shines through. The album is filled with many soulful blues tracks which are, despite the album’s title, not live.

Born in Mississippi in 1912, John Lee Hooker was an American blues singer, guitarist and songwriter. After working a variety of factory jobs during World War II, John Lee Hooker moved to Detroit when he got a job at the Ford Motor Company. He became immersed in the Detroit music scene, playing bars and blues clubs. Hooker would record a large amount of music during his long career, often recording under different names for different labels and reworking his songs. With a song style based on the Delta blues, he incorporated elements of North Mississippi Hill country blues, talking blues and piano driven boogie-woogie music. As a result, Hooker came up with his own rhythmic style. Some of his early gritty blues songs that he’s known for are songs such as “Boogie Chillen”, “Crawling King Snake”, “Boom Boom”, and “It Serves You Right (To Suffer)”.

On Campus starts off with the blues song “I’m Leaving”, featuring sliding blues licks, piano, shuffling drums and scratchy guitars. Lyrically with words such as “I’m cutting out this morning” Hooker seems to be singing not only of a woman that he wants to get away from, but perhaps also his current situation. This record, as mentioned earlier, attempts to clean up Hooker’s early sound. However, while Hooker may be leaving an earlier production style, he is also venturing into another. On Campus added more soul with back up singers and horn sections that sweat with the music. Recorded in Chicago over two sessions, On Campus also featured more rough blues songs such as “I Want To Ramble”, “Half A Stranger”, “My Grinding Mill” and “Bottle Up and Go”. These songs are balanced with the other more soulful ballad-type songs throughout On Campus.

“Don’t Look Back” stands out amongst the other songs on this album. A song that has a slow, heavy groove, “Don’t Look Back” has a nostalgic feeling, while the lyrics convey something different. They dismiss the nostalgia and call for a need to keep moving forward. Ironically, this song was re-recorded again in 1998 with Van Morrison. Morrison also performed this song as a duet with Hooker, in addition to producing it. Prior to this, Van Morrison also covered “Don’t Look Back” with his first band, Them. In 1998, it won a Grammy Award.

John Lee Hooker has released many albums, but with On Campus, Hooker stepped out into the beginnings of a broader world of music. He would walk this path for quite sometime, often collaborating with other musicians. Hooker began to take steps forward with On Campus, not necessarily looking back, but not forgetting where he came from as he moved forward.

The Playlist:

1. Muddy Waters - I Got My Brand On You (Muddy Waters At Newport 1960 - 1960)
2. Chuck Berry - Reelin' And Rockin' (Takes 7 & 8) (Johnny B Goode (His Complete 50's Chess Recordings) - 2007)
3. The Contours - Can You Do It (Dance With The Contours - 2011)
4. Steve Mancha - Need To Be Needed (Detroit Soulman - 2000)
5. Gino Washington - Gino is a Coward (Out of This World - 1999)
6. R.L. Burnside - Jumper On The Line (The Rough Guide To Delta Blues - 2002)
7. The Unique Quartet - Mama's Black Baby Boy (American Pop: An Audio History - 2000)
8. Josh White - Uncle Sam Says (Let Freedom Sing! - 2009)
9. Elmore James - (My) Bleeding Heart (Bleeding Heart - 1965)
10. Ray Charles - Sinner's Prayer (Ray Charles - 1967)
11. John Lee Hooker - I'm Leaving (On Campus - 1963)
12. John Lee Hooker- Don't Look Back (On Campus - 1963)
13. Frankie "Sugar Chile" Robinson - Caldonia (Frankie "Sugar Chile" Robinson 1949-1952 - 2003)
14. Frankie "Sugar Chile" Robinson - I'll Eat My Spinach (Frankie "Sugar Chile" Robinson 1949-1953 - 2003)
15. Shorty Long - Here Comes The Judge (The Essential Collection - 2000)
16. The Contours - Whole Lotta Woman (The Sound of Detroit (Original Gems From The Motown Vaults) - 2012)
17. Nina Simone - Pirate Jenny (Nina Simone in Concert - 1964)
18. Ike & Tina Turner - Mojo Queen (It's Gonna Work Out Fine - 1963)
19. Eddie Bo - Hook & Sling (Hook & Sling - 1969)
20. Roy Ward - Horse With A Freeze (Horse With A Freeze - 1968)
21. Lucky Laws - I'm Not Teasing (Jerk Boom Bam! Vol 8 - 2013)
22. Booker T & The M.G.'s - It's Your Thing (The Booker T Set - 1969)
23. Booker T Jones - Rent Party (The Road From Memphis - 2011)
24. The Contours - He Couldn't Do The Cross Fire (Dance With The Contours - 2011)
25. The Fantastic Four - Don't Risk Your Happines On Foolishness (Alvin Stone (The Birth and Death Of A Gangster) - 1975)
26. John Lee Hooker - Birmingham Blues (On Campus - 1963)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for February 11.

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