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 at Elsewhere articles index

TRAVELLING RIVERSIDE BLUES: Robert Johnson, the blues and Clarksdale, Mississippi

TRAVELLING RIVERSIDE BLUES: Robert Johnson, the blues and Clarksdale, Mississippi

The intersection of highways 61 and 49 near Clarksdale in northwest Mississippi doesn't look particularly special: there's a car yard, a service station, a couple of kids listlessly kicking a ball... > Read more

Joanne Shaw Taylor: Almost Always Never (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Joanne Shaw Taylor: Almost Always Never (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Until you are told otherwise, just on listening to this tough, sassy and earthy blues singer and fiery guitarist you'd assume she was black American, probably forged in the fires of Chicago clubs... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Paul McCartney: My Valentine (2012)

Paul McCartney: My Valentine (2012)

For the past few years on this day (February 14), it has been Elsewhere's habit to post the lovely Valentine by Nils Lofgren (with help from Bruce Springsteen) but this time . . . Paul... > Read more

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Green River

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Green River

In a freewheeling and enjoyable interview before a solo show in 2005, John Fogerty -- mainman behind CCRevival -- laughed about how at the height of the counterculture in the late Sixties bands... > Read more