Howlin' Wolf: The Howlin' Wolf Album (Set on Down)

Howlin' Wolf: The Red Rooster
Howlin' Wolf: The Howlin' Wolf Album (Set on Down)

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 things.

Chess Records had previously put Muddy Waters together with Cosey and others for the partially successful but mostly awful “psychedelic blues” album Electric Mud.

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 their earthiness.

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.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Blues articles index

Lowell Fulson: Trouble Trouble, The Definitive Early Years Collection (Fantastic Voyage/Southbound)

Lowell Fulson: Trouble Trouble, The Definitive Early Years Collection (Fantastic Voyage/Southbound)

Sometimes the singer-guitarist Lowell Fulson (1921-99) recorded as Lowell Fulsom and even Lowell Fullsom, but he was born Fulson although the liner notes to this three CD set suggest where the... > Read more

King Leo and the Growling Dogs: Mad Love (King Leo)

King Leo and the Growling Dogs: Mad Love (King Leo)

Ahh yes, the "Dunedin sound", huh? Well here's something out of the south which will further confound preconceptions: King Leo LaDell and his tight band haul into tough urban blues... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

BERNARD STOLLMAN INTERVIEWED (2013): Lawman with ESP for new music

BERNARD STOLLMAN INTERVIEWED (2013): Lawman with ESP for new music

For a large part of his adult life, Bernard Stollman was just one of those New Yorkers in a suit going to work. He had an honorific title as an assistant attorney-general in New York City... > Read more

Ocean Colour Scene: Here in my Heart

Ocean Colour Scene: Here in my Heart

It was one of the saddest days I can recall, and yet it had started out so well in Birmingham, a place where I had been drawn to interview the Britpop band Ocean Colour Scene in their hometown. It... > Read more