John Lee Hooker, Jr.
Blues with a Vengeance
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2005, Volume 12, #4
Written by John Metzger
On his initial outing Blues with a Vengeance, John Lee Hooker, Jr. covers three of his fatherís most popular songs (Dimples, Boom Boom, and One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer), and although this isnít an entirely unexpected tactic for him to take, it is unfortunate one. True, he reinterprets the tunes and recasts them in a different light, but comparisons to the originals are impossible to avoid, particularly given Hooker, Jr.ís lineage. As a result, the new renditions canít help but to feel inferior, no matter how well-performed they might be. As for the other nine tracks on the album, they fare much better, proving definitively that Hooker, Jr. has the blues coursing through his veins. Wisely, he steers clear of copping the elder statesmanís swampy, Delta roar ó in fact, he avoids it entirely ó and instead, he fuses bits of R&B and jazz into his gritty, urban approach. Indeed, with its bawdy lyrics, Suspicious is a direct descendent of Bobby Rushís musings; She Wasnít Nothiní but a Devil electrifies Professor Longhairís New Orleans-boogie; and Blues Ainít Nothiní but a Pimp resurrects both T-Bone Walker and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Courtesy of a backing band that includes Herbie Hancock protegť Will "Roc" Griffin as well guitarist John Garcia, Jr., who was an associate of Hooker, Sr., the surrounding music is suitably spicy, but itís Hooker, Jr.ís passionate, fiery, and soulful vocals that make Blues with a Vengeance such a confident and promising debut.
Blues with a Vengeance is available from Barnes & Noble.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box