September 2003 Archives
Hooker's Last Album Due Next Month
By Wes Orshoski
NEW YORK (Billboard) - The album blues great John Lee Hooker was working on at the time of his death will be released next month.
"Face to Face," which Hooker was completing with his daughter Zakiya, is due Oct. 28 via a licensing deal between the Hooker estate and Eagle Rock Entertainment. The album features guest appearances by Van Morrison (news), George Thorogood, Elvin Bishop, Warren Haynes, Dickey Betts, Johnny Winter and Jack Casady (news), among others.
The album is a collection of leftover songs that are in many cases embellished with overdubbed performances from the various guests. The raw tracks, all of which feature Hooker on vocal and guitar, were recorded during the sessions for the Pointblank/Virgin albums he released over the last decade of his life.
Morrison -- who has in recent years appeared on and produced Hooker recordings -- duets with the bluesman on "Dimples," featuring Bishop on guitar. Longtime Chuck Berry (news) pianist Johnnie Johnson and Haynes (playing slide guitar) join Hooker on "Up and Down." Haynes' former Allman Brothers bandmate Betts appears on "Serves Me Right to Suffer."
Along with Haynes, both Thorogood and Winter contribute slide guitar work to the set. "Face to Face" also includes a new, lean version of Hooker's classic "Boogie Chillin"' featuring only the singer and Thorogood's guitar work. Ex-Jefferson Airplane bassist Casady plays on two tracks.
Also appearing are longtime Hooker collaborator Roy Rogers (news), guitarist Billy Johnson (news) and keyboardist Deacon Jones (both of Hooker's Coast to Coast Blues Band), guitarist Ron Thompson and bassist/organist Tony Saunders. Zakiya, who produced the album with Ollan Christopher, duets with her father on a pair of tracks. Her band Bluz 4 U also appears.
Roughly a year before his June 2001 death, Pointblank asked Hooker for another album, at which point he and Zakiya (who has also recorded for Pointblank/Virgin) began compiling the unused cuts. Rogers produced several of those basic, raw recordings.
After Hooker's death, Virgin underwent a major restructuring, which led Eugene Skuratowicz, the manager of the artist's estate, to shop the project to various labels, before landing at Eagle Rock (Hooker was not under contract to Virgin at the time.)
Through the deal with Eagle Rock, several Hooker audio and video projects will be released. In terms of video material, Skuratowicz says the estate has more than 300 tapes from throughout the artist's long career in its vault. One, he says, features Morrison and Hooker dueting on a dock in Mississippi.
Hooker will be featured alongside fellow blues icons Son House and Muddy Waters in the premiere installment of director Martin Scorsese (news)'s seven-part blues miniseries, which begins Sept. 28 on PBS.
Here is the "Face to Face" track list, the exact order of which is not yet final:
"Up and Down" (featuring Warren Haynes & Johnnie Johnson)
"Dimples" (featuring Van Morrison and Elvin Bishop)
"Serves Me Right to Suffer" (featuring Dickey Betts)
"Stop Jivin' Me" (featuring George Thorogood)
"Turn Over a New Leaf" (featuring Bluz 4 U)
"Rockin' Chair" (featuring Zakiya Hooker & Bluz 4 U)
"Face to Face" (featuring Jack Casady & Johnny Winter)
"Loving People" (featuring Bluz 4 U)
"Big Road" (featuring Jack Casady & Warren Haynes)
"Six Page Letter"
"Madman Blues" (featuring George Thorogood & Roy Rogers)
"Wednesday Evening Blues" (featuring George Thorogood)
"Boogie Chillin"' (featuring George Thorogood)
"Mean Mean World" (featuring Zakiya Hooker & Bluz 4 U)
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