Thursday, December 27, 2012

All Hooked Up reviewed by Rick Davis

All Hooked Up
John Lee Hooker, Jr.
Steppin' Stone Records
12 Tracks

John Lee Hooker Jr. has more life experiences than one could imagine. Born in 1952 in Detroit, he began performing on the local radio station WJBK at the tender age of eight. He started at the age of 18 recording with his father John Lee Hooker Sr. on albums like Soledad Prison (1972). Up until that time, he performed in various Detroit blues clubs. His life took the wrong path until his father died in 2001, when he made a come back.

At the age of 52, he was able to get his life back on track and released the award winning CD Blues with a Vengeance (2004). He followed up with three more CDs until the release of his current CD All Hooked Up, hosting numerous musicians throughout a dozen original tunes. Backing Hooker on his new CD are the spec-tacular Hot Sauce Horn section, standouts John Garcia on guitar, and Dave Barrette on harp. His life experiences certainly offered a lot of material for writing the lyr-ics on these 12 new original tunes. There is a thread of funk heard throughout the CD especially on the opening tune "Tired Of Being A Housewife," "It Must Be The Meds," "I Know That's Right," and the title track "All Hooked Up" which sounds like a synopsis of John Lee Hooker Jr.'s life. "You Be My Hero" is his tribute to the armed forces. "Hard Times" opens with stellar guitar licks from Garcia combined with the gripping vocals of Hooker to paint a vivid picture of life on the streets. "Listen To The Music" adds in some Bourbon Street keyboards and Mardi Gras style vocals to the collection. Hooker brings in Betty Wright for a duet on "I Surrender" surrounded by a full horn section extravaganza. The Hot Sauce Horns also take center stage on "Let Me Be" along with the blazing guitar of John Garcia and convincing vocals of Hooker himself. The hard drivin' guitars on "Tell It Like It Is" is indeed one of the strongest blues tunes on the CD. All Hooked Up concludes with the jazz infused tunes "Pay The Rent" and "Tears In My Eyes."

John Lee Hooker Jr.'s vocals seem to fit any style of blues or jazz with excellence. This CD, with its variety of blues and jazz, will satisfy your musical appetite for hours. As a bonus the CD/DVD combo includes the animated video of "Dear John."

Reviewed by Rick Davis

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