Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Howlin' Wolf – His Best Vol. 2 (MCA/Chess, 1999)

This material has been issued by Chess and whatever corporate hierarchy they have been owned by many times over the years. It doesn't make the music any less wonderful, but it does make it a little more difficult to pull together a good sample of Wolf's Chess output – things get pretty confusing after a while. MCA/Chess re-issued some of their most popular blues material in 1997 with each artist getting a best of, and the more prolific musicians like the Wolf had a second volume released a few years later.

So this disc digs a little deeper into the Wolf's Chess catalog, but it's no less interesting. All of the tunes are anchored by snarling guitar of Hubert Sumlin and others along with Wolf's wild harmonica and earth shaking vocals. Some well known Wolf singles included in this collection include the slow grinding "Nachez Burnin'" and "Tail Dragger" and the blasting uptempo numbers like "Commit A Crime."

All in all it's a really solid cross-section of some of Howlin' Wolf's less well known Chess material from the 1950's and 1960's. Newcomers to the Wolf's hardcore blues are advised to check out Volume One first to get the lowdown on his best known material, but after that this disc and the music Wolf cut in Memphis for Sun Records are must haves.

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