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

 |   |  1 min read

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

HOWLIN' WOLF IN LONDON, 1970: When worlds collide

HOWLIN' WOLF IN LONDON, 1970: When worlds collide

One of the most beloved blues albums of the early Seventies was a super-session recorded when Howlin' Wolf went to London to work with the Stones' rhythm section of Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman,... > Read more

Various Artists: God Don't Never Change; The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson (Alligator/Southbound)

Various Artists: God Don't Never Change; The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson (Alligator/Southbound)

Late last year Elsewhere essayed the life and music of the great Blind Willie Johnson, the man who gave blues (and then rock and country) such cornerstone songs as It's Nobody's Fault But Mine,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Various Artists; Psychedelia

THE BARGAIN BUY: Various Artists; Psychedelia

For many people the golden era of psychedelic music was before the drugs kicked in. There was that period from late '65 through to maybe mid '68 where many bands retained a pop economy and allowed... > Read more

Various Artists: High Life Time 2 (Vampi Soul)

Various Artists: High Life Time 2 (Vampi Soul)

The enjoyable reissues of West African music by the Strut, Sound Way and Vampi Soul labels (Funky Lagos, Ghana Special, High Life and others) have brought back music from the Sixties and... > Read more