This recording documents Howlin' Wolf and the Wolf Gang's November, 1964 concert in Bremen, Germany. It has been issued and reissued, packaged and repackaged many times, but this 2003 Acrobat CD is probably as good as any version available, and better than most.
Chester Arthur Burnett, the Howlin' Wolf, was in his mid-fifties when this concert was taped, but he was still in his prime, and his incredible voice has lost none of the power of his earlier years. He sings with passion and precision, indeed both his and the entire band's performances are completely focused.
And what a band it is...Wolf's magnificent long-time lead guitarist Hubert Sumlin is there, Chess songwriter-producer-arranger Willie Dixon plays the bass, the drum kit is more than ably handled by Clifton James, and the great Sunnyland Slim is prominent on piano.
The fidelity is less than excellent; there is not near enough seperation of the instruments, and the drums lack presence in the overall sonic image. But it is certainly not terrible; Wolf's vocals and Sunnyland Slim's piano in particular are well recorded and quite crisp, all things considered, and Sumlin's guitar cuts right through the murk.
Wolf and the gang open with a rollicking "Shake for Me", followed by that powerful slow grind which Chess Records released as "May I Have A Talk With You", but which Wolf announces as "Love Me". Both are top-notch performances, and they're followed by an explosive "Dust My Broom".
We also get Wolf's "Howlin' For My Darlin'" and the classic "Forty-Four" (or "Forty-Four Blues"), and the latter, a muscular, seven-minute swagger, is perhaps the best song on the entire disc, the perfect blues song if there is such a thing. A magnificent vocal by Wolf, and the band follows him perfectly.
You should be aware that there are one or two albums out there which feature a few more tracks than this one, including one of Wolf's best original songs, "Killing Floor". But those extra tracks are NOT live recordings, and they have nothing to do with this 1964 concert; they are merely outtakes from Wolf's early-70s London Sessions album, so don't be fooled!
Again, there are many versions of this concert released by numerous record labels, but this is probably the best so far. The fidelity leaves something to be desired, but everything else is so good that no Wolf fan - indeed, no fan of genuine, gritty Chicago blues - should be without this.
Very highly recommended!