One of the assertions on the cover of this album – released in 69, reissued after a long absence – isn't true. Bluesman Howlin' Wolf had been an “early adopter” of electric guitar.
What is true is he didn't care for this album (“dog
shit” was his considered judgment) which had him being made over in
line with the post-Hendrix psychedelic music of the time with wah-wah
from guitarist Pete Cosey (soon to join Miles' Davis fusion outfit)
splattered over his raw blues. And fluttery jazz-styled flute, of all
But for Wolf – almost 60, grumpy and in a dry spell after a series
of classic and influential singles at the start of the decade -- this
was an odd concept, especially when he was covering his important
songs (the recent Spoonful, Back Door Man, Red Rooster and
earlier Smokestack Lightning which had been covered by the likes of the young Stones, Van Morrison, Cream and many others) in a way which detracted from
Wolf's sandpaper'n'whisky vocals didn't sit with mind expanding guitars, like taking moonshine to a love-in.
The moody and spare Evil and Moanin' at Midnight might be the best things, but that isn't saying much – and while we might wish this had improved with age that isn't true either.
Interested in more about the real earthy blues? Then try this, despite the title it is surprisingly interesting.
By Graham Reid, posted