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The Collection
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58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 27 August 2006
A welcome budget price collection by one of the most charismatic and influential blues artists of all time. Many of Wolf's best known numbers are here, commencing with 'How Many More Years' from his first session in 1951 in Sam Phillips' Memphis studio, and continuing through the 1954 to 1965 period with Chess Records. The material is licensed from MCA, and therefore in excellent sound quality, with stereo mixes being used on some of the later dates. Just reading the titles reveals that most of the essential tracks are present, including the ones that were to feature strongly in the white blues boom of the 1960s: 'The Little Red Rooster', 'Spoonful', 'Killing Floor', and the inevitable 'Smokestack Lightnin''.

Wolf's songs were notable for their innovative lyrics, mostly composed by Willie Dixon, who, as a member of the Chess house band, played bass on many of these numbers. The CD could almost be considered a tribute to Dixon's songwriting talents. The lyrics of 'Tail Dragger' are particularly interesting in that they describe how the prowling wolf would wipe his tracks out with his tail, a theme borrowed from the 1930 recording 'Howling Wolf Blues No.3' by J.T. 'Funny Paper' Smith, the original Howling Wolf, from whom Chester Burnett obtained his pseudonym.

The rich, dynamic sound of the original recordings is well captured on this reissue, with the stunning guitar of Hubert Sumlin well to the fore on most numbers, and Otis Spann's piano featured here and there, including 'Wang Dang Doodle' and the moody 'Evil'. If you don't already own these classic recordings then this is an excellent place to start.
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 October 2002
When the blues hit Chicago and got lectrified there were two competing champs for the heavyweight title.
Muddy Waters is the better known, and no slouch in my book, but this guy is the real king.
Listen in awe to that primal bellow. Hubert Sumlin was no slouch on guitar either. Truelly a giant of the blues, and with Willie Dixon penning most of the songs, how can you lose?
So turn your blues-lite Clapton cds into coasters and get your ears round the Wolf.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
This is actually a pretty good compilation. It has most of Wolf's best-known songs, the fidelity is good, and the price is reasonable. It doesn't quite measure up to MCA/Chess' "His Best", however, and if you're into Howlin' Wolf, "His Best" and "His Best, vol. II" are an ultimately more satisfying purchase.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
This is actually a pretty good compilation. It has most of Wolf's best-known songs, the fidelity is good, and the price is reasonable. And you get tremendous, earth-shattering performances like "How Many More Years", "Little Red Rooster", and "Killing Floor" from perhaps the most impressive figure the blues has ever seen.

It doesn't quite measure up to MCA/Chess' "His Best", however, and if you're into Howlin' Wolf, "His Best" and "His Best, vol. II" are an ultimately more satisfying purchase with a better track list. The annotation on this one is laughable, and besides: your best bet when buying a compilation on a Chess recording artist is to ALWAYS go with MCA/Chess' own stuff. They just do a better job, somehow.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2009
I recently started to get interested in blues music and bought this. It was a great decision.
There isn't a bad track on the CD my only reservation is that Smokestack lightning and I asked for water (she gave me gasoline) sound almost identical. Down in the bottom amazed me because it sounded like an early Ska record. The tracks from this CD quickly made it into my most played list I enjoy it so much.
If your looking for a place to start listening to blues music look no further.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2010
Having previously heard only snippets of Howling Wolf songs, I bought this CD because it had good reviews and seemed a cheap way of hearing a lot more from the man.

Unusually for me when I play a new CD (by any artist), I loved it from first play, and as each song progressed, I eagerly awaited the next.

I was immediately struck by how much Mr Wolf had influenced other artists. There are songs on here which if they had Mick Jaggers voice would fit very nicely on "Exile on Main Street", particularly I thought, "Do the Do". In fact the sound is so similar, that it's hard to imagine how "Exile" could have existed without Howling Wolf. Of course the Stones did have a number one hit with another song here, "Little Red Rooster", but that was much earlier in their career.

Apparently Howling Wolf hired only the very best musicians, and it is apparent here, most tracks are very tight and strong. However, it's the voice which above all really hits you, incredibly powerful. "Smokestack Lightnin'" stands out as an example, but there are so many great vocals. I particularly like "Down in the Bottom", "How many more years" and "Killing Floor".

There is the occasional track which I'm not so keen on, I think that the middle three or four tracks are weaker than the rest, but still good, and overall I have to give it a score of 5. I can't compare it to other Howling Wolf CDs, but for the price, it's well worth the investment and I thoroughly recommend it.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2002
This is a great compilation if Howlin Wolf's best known work and as such is not going to be of much use to die hard fans but as an introduction it works just fine. Howlin Wolf had one of the greatest blues voices, a kind of melodic growl, that was almost an instrument in its own right. It is in fine especiaaly on such songs as "Backdoor Man" (which is a classic) and "Smokestack Ligthning". The tunes are fine and great if you like delta blues but the whole compilation lacks depth (probably due to the fact it's a compilation)and so does not receive the full 5 stars. But this is defenitely worth purcahsing if your a fan of the blues, Beefheart or Zappa
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
If you love Delta and Chicago blues, this is a requirement for your collection. Prolific in performances and profligate in life, Howlin' can live on...and will.
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on 27 February 2014
Built for comfort! Great to hear the Wolf again. I had his vinyl albums in the 60s. This collection covers all the bases and includes all his signature tunes from 1951 to 1965. These are the original versions of Smokestack Lightnin', Spoonful etc, not the disappointing re-recordings released in 1970 with the Wolf trying out a wah-wah guitar sound. This is the guy that turned thousands of white college kids onto the blues...notably one Don van Vliet (later Captain Beefheart, who modelled his vocal style on the big guy's! If you recently heard the man for the first time and want to find out more - get this.
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on 27 October 2012
Don't let the 'collection' title trick you into believing this is another mundane compilation from an older era.

This album is quite possibly the finest legacy of individual and collective genius ever put together in history. People talk about lennon-mccartney, page-plant, jagger-richards as the most talented duos in contempary music, but to me no-one comes close to the sweet sweet sound that was produced by the Wolf-Sumlin partnership.

Buy it now and drink in the almost physical sound created from the real deal.
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