Consumer Guide Album
John Lee Hooker: The Ultimate Collection (1948-1990) [Rhino, 1991]
An ageless modern, the first blues primitivist-not-primitive: "Ain't no heaven/No burnin' hell/When I die." I could do with less Delta solitude and more urban anger, from 1948's "War Is Over (Goodbye California)" (on Specialty's stretched-thin Graveyard Blues) to 1967's "The Motor City Is Burning" (on MCA's boogieful The Best of John Lee Hooker 1965 to 1974). But just by collecting signature songs from 11 different labels, this 31-track double-CD captures his primal-not-simple beat at an unprecedented level of specificity.