This CD and it's companion piece Memphis Days Volume 2 are the latest indulgence of my newest musical obsession. And they don't dissapoint.
I've become a huge fan of the Wolf over the last few months, both the man and his music. I've read the book - also recommended - bought the records, I've even spotted a T-shirt on ebay I'm considering.. so i (enthusiastically) expected these two CD's to be collections aimed at the completist only. I don't mean musically of course, I mean in terms of fidelity.
My expectations however fell well short, the remastered sound on these CD's is fantastic, as is the music. I'm not inclined to attempt a track by track analysis but the band are never anything less than 'on fire' throughout this collection and the remastering of this CD easily allows us to hear the space in which they recorded it, conguering mental images of the band at work and the environment around them, it's that good.
Howlin' Wolf's incredible voice is a natural sparing partner for Willie Johnson's (at times) unpredictable improvisations on the guitar, which in turn is underpinned by some fantastic drumming and rock solid bass work, all building to a mesmerising collective effort. Isn't that what a band should be? And mean? A couple of times Willie Johnson's slashing chords and tough rhythms put me in mind of John McLaughlin's work on Miles Davis' album A tribute to Jack Johnson, which incidentally is also essential (repeated) listening.
I'd recommend this to old fans and newcomers alike. Every now and again with music it can seem as though you've stumbled upon a vital clue to what is ultimately an unsolveable puzzle, an unending search.
Musical taste, of course, is subjective, yet some music it seems incorporates properties fundamental to a greater understanding of our own selves as individuals, and therefore the world and people around us. This CD contains that kind of music. Soul music.
Waste no more time. Meet the Wolf.