January 1st, 2013


Title: All Hooked Up

Artist: John Lee Hooker, Jr.

Label: Steppin’ Stone Records/dist. by INgrooves Fontana

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: September 18, 2012

 

 

John Lee Hooker, Jr. has some big shoes to fill. With a famous name and father, he has had both the advantage of automatic cache and the disadvantage of an automatic comparison to his legendary namesake. A childhood spent touring the blues circuit with his father introduced Hooker, Jr. to the blues as a musical form and as a lifestyle, something that would come back to haunt him especially hard during the years spent in his hometown of Detroit wallowing in the hard substances and lifestyles that always brought him right back down.

Tough beginnings like that made Hooker, Jr.’s debut, Blues with a Vengeance, released in 2004 at age 52 , easy to root for. The last eight years have produced three more albums, establishing him as a notable bluesman in his own right. His latest release, All Hooked Up, is definitely a 21st century blues album with songs like “Tired of Being a Housewife,” which recounts a woman’s frustrations with Facebook and her husband’s internet porn addiction, and “It Must Be the Meds,” a contemporary tale of woe that is fairly self-explanatory.

Hooker, Jr.’s contemporary edge is also seen in his willingness to meld traditional Memphis blues sounds with R&B and soul, as heard most excellently in his duet with Betty Wright on “I Surrender.” Even more modern, however, is Jr.’s acknowledgement that the blues life can wear someone down and that, in his case, avoiding rowdiness and focusing on his faith has given him the opportunity to sing about the hard times while living for the good ones.

Review by Dorothy Berry

Editor’s note: The CD also features a special bonus DVD with an animated film noir video for John Lee’s song, “Dear John.”

Review Genre(s): Blues


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