John Lee Hooker, Jr.: Dear John

Track

Dear John

Artist

CD

All Odds Against Me (Steppin' Stone 9010)

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Musicians:

John Lee Hooker, Jr. (vocals),

John Garcia, Jr. (lead guitar), Jeffrey James Horan (rhythm guitar), Will ‘Roc’ Griffin (keyboards), Frank ‘Tebo’ Thibeaux (bass), David Barrett (harmonica), Mike Rogers (drums)

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Composed by John Lee Hooker, Jr., William Griffin, John Garcia, Jr.

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Recorded: No info given, CD released in 2008

Albumcoverjlhookeraoam

Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

John Lee Hooker, Jr. has had a tough, troubled life even by the standards of blues musicians. But he has gotten his act together and, after his famous father's death in 2001, has solidified his own reputation on the blues scene. His 2004 CD Blues with a Vengeance earned a Grammy nomination, and his 2008 release All Odds Against Me, which opens with this "Dear John" track, is likely to expand his following. Hooker offers a fiery "talking blues" here, eventually showing off his singing ability but first stretching out with a hard-times story. No one did this better than the singer's late father, who burst to fame with a talking blues hit ("Boogie Chillen") 60 years ago. Jr. has inherited a dose of the Hooker magic. Nonetheless, though this track delivers an edgy take on the old avenging woman theme -- another familiar blues subject -- the end result may be closer to George Thorogood than to anything you will find in the blues bins. Unlike his father, Hooker, Jr. doesn't play the guitar here, but has enlisted a strong grooving band that keeps it raw and exciting. Hooker is not a new artist -- he is in his mid-50s -- but this CD is one more piece of evidence proving (what we've always known) that blues musicians simply get better with age. This one might just be entering his prime.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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