Monday, April 07, 2008

The Hour Of The Wolf


Howlin' Wolf, The London Sessions, 1971

One of my first exposures to the world of Chicago-style blues, after a steady diet of country-style Delta blues, was the Rolling Stones’ version of the Willie Dixon classic Little Red Rooster back in the early 1960’s. I thought that was a song to beat all songs and it had nothing to do its allegorical nature, you know, about sex. What, moreover, capped it for me the fact that it was originally banned in Boston- from the radio airwaves of the times. Naturally that made this teenager want to hear it even more.

All this is by way of saying-yes; the Stones did a great version of that song but if you really want it heard then you must go to the master- Howlin' Wolf. That big gravelly-voiced man who, in still pictures that I have seen of him as well as film seems to be inhaling the microphone, lets it all hang out as he struts his stuff on that number. In Do the Do, Little Red Rooster, Killing Floor and on and on the Wolf sweats, bleeds, sucks up the whiskey, has another one for good measure and gets down on his knees, sometimes literally, to belt out the blues.

In this two-disc set of Howlin' Wolf classics some of those Stones did exactly what I mentioned above-went to the source. Listen in to the dialogue when the Wolf tells these trained, experienced musicians how to do the do here on Little Red Rooster. And they are all ears. That says it all. Moreover, the musical excitement builds as song after song gets you in a true blues mood. This is all about sex, about whiskey, about hardworking weeks to get to fun-loving Saturday nights. Yes, the hour of the Wolf is just before the dawn. Get this masterwork. You will not regret it.

1 comment:

  1. "The Red Rooster" by Willie Dixon

    I have a little red rooster, too lazy to crow for day
    I have a little red rooster, too lazy to crow for day
    Keep everything in the barnyard, upset in every way

    Oh the dogs begin to bark, and the hound begin to howl
    Oh the dogs begin to bark, hound begin to howl
    Ooh watch out strange kind people, cause little red rooster is on the prowl

    If you see my little red rooster, please drag him home
    If you see my little red rooster, please drag him home
    There ain't no peace in the barnyard, since the little red rooster been gone