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This review is from: Blues Brother (Audio CD)
I'm surprised that (at the time of writing) nobody has yet reviewed this CD.
"Blues Brother" is a 24 track collection of material recorded by John Lee Hooker for the Sensation label between 1948 and 1951. Mastered from the original tapes and lacquers it has an excellent sound quality.
For those who enjoy their Hooker as just the man, the guitar (sometimes electric, sometimes acoustic)and the stamping foot, this disc is for you. The only additional musicianship to be found here is a harmonica on two tracks, and a lead guitar on another.
Although this collection covers the same era as Hooker's more famous recordings for the Modern label, I find it to be a superior compilation to the well respected The Legendary Modern Recordings. Both CDs were released within a year of each other by Ace Records, but to my ears this one sounds far more alive, it "breathes" in a very natural and analogue way. This won't make sense to some, but others will understand; there are times when you really get a feel for the room in which the recording took place.
The tracks on Blues Brother were originally mastered in 1970 from the original tapes and vinyl recordings. It's probably safe to assume a relatively straight transfer of those 1970's masterings was made in 1992 for this collection.
In comparison the Legendary Modern Recordings was transferred and mastered in modern times, and I feel the more recent processing technology leaves them sounding a lot less "alive", as if a touch too much effort was made when it came to cleaning the tracks up.
As for the music, between those two albums I find Blues Brother again tips the scales. Although its a one-man-one-guitar format throughout (and it lacks the added clout of containing a swathe of classics to match those featured on the Legendary Modern CD) the compositions are more stylistically varied over the course of the album. The Legendary Modern Recordings however falls into the trap of becoming a bit "samey" for a good chunk of its latter section (despite changes in the instrumentation etc throughout), an issue compounded by the very best material taking up the first half of the disc.
So, how will I rate Blues Brother? It gets a solid 4 stars from me.