September 1, 2004

John Lee Hooker
Come and See About Me

A loving document produced by the John Lee Hooker estate, Come and See About Me presents some highlights of the blues legend’s career, from a 1960 performance of “Maudie” to various solo gigs to “musical sitdowns” with stars such as Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Ry Cooder, Eric Clapton, John Hammond, the Rolling Stones, and, ahem, Foghat. The nonchalant power of Hooker is evident in every reel, and he is mesmerizing. His voice is extremely sensual, and his phrasing is brilliant. Long, languid notes that draw every scrap of meaning from each word are interspersed with staccato exhortations and overtly sexual grunts and howls. And then there’s the guitar—a sharp, ragged funkiness deftly pushes and pulls against the vocal until it finds the right moment to erupt in a frenzy of pull-offs, bends, and chordal flurries. This cool cat knew all about tension and release, and whether his musical eroticism came from the church or the loins didn’t matter—the music always delivered a whole lot more than just notes and grooves. This was true soul music. And while he was way too cool to follow the blitzkrieg stage moves of Elvis and Mick Jagger, Hooker’s slow and hypnotic swaying held all the danger of a cobra. The filmed interviews with Hooker are almost as thrilling as watching him play. John Lee was a total entertainer, a true original, and an essential touchstone to every player worth his or her guitar. Eagle Eye Media.

—Michael Molenda  

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