John Lee Hooker ‎– Live At Cafe Au-Go-Go

Label:
BGO Records ‎– BGO LP39
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Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue
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Credits

Notes

Recorded by ABC-Paramount Records Inc. U.S.A. / Bluesway Series.
This was released circa 1989 or 1990

Textes from back cover:

Live At Cafe Au-Go-Go
John Lee Hooker and Otis Spann are a formidable blues team, and when they appared at the Café au Go-Go in Greenwich Village during August, 1966, the room was jammed more often than not.
It was jammed with young people who sat in ranks before them while consuming enormous vases of ice cream and soda. These customers were informally but sensibly dressed. Some wore no shoes. They sat quietly, attentively, and appreciatively.
This was the new, youthful audience the blues have attracted, unexpectedly and perhaps against the laws of logic. It is a triumph for the blues and a triumph of the 1960s.
The audience deserves to be congratulated, too, because it has found its way to one of the most vital, valid and vigorous forms of American music. It has found it with very little help, because rarely if ever is a genuine blues singer presented on national TV or any of the other mass media TV happily presents the imitations, domestic and foreign, because it has its own prejudices and its own monoric conception of youth's intelligence, but here is one instance where youth has proved it wrong.
The situation is interesting. As young people grow out of their teens, the infantile banalities of rock 'n ' roll cease to satisfy. But the chilly pretensions and ugly postures of "Modern" and "avant-garde" jazz do not appeal to them either. They are looking for realism in music, for an earthy emotionalism that relates to the world they are discovering. Some of them see through the pseudofolk who sing folksongs learned out of a book, and they are not deluded by the stance and jargon of the folklorist. Some of them find what they want in the blues and this is remarkable two-thirds of the way through the twentieth century, when all the signposts point the other way.
Besides those who merely want to enjoy them, others have found the blues. There are the snobs who need to intellectualize and make a science of appreciation. At a previous record session, John Lee Hooker had said, "I know what they like in these coffee houses". This was coldly received in certain quarters. Authenticity presumably demanded that the music continue to be played only in plantation halls, juke joints, and bars on Chicago's South Side. If coffee houses automatically implied concessions and commercialism to the hyper-critical, there was no evidence a the Café au Go-Go that this was justified.
John Lee leaned at the mike, solemn, severe and a little stooped. Muddy Waters, Sammy Lawhorn, Luther Johnson and Mac Arnold stood in a line behind him, deadpan, bending with the beat. Otis Spann sat facing him at the piano, his back to the audience. Francis Clay was intent on the rhythmic foundation, and George Smith, who had previously worked with Muddy in 1955, had his mouth-harp ready to add keening cries and wailing embellishments as the opportunity offered. They were as informally dressed as their audience, and although they were "playing for the people", it was without showmanship, almost as though they were playing for themselves.
Backstage, John Lee had sat quietly, strumming on "his wife" as he calls his six-string guitar. The younger man had joined him on by one, first Sammy Lawhorn, then Mac Arnold, and then "Georgia Boy" Johnson. "Get it right, get it rights!" he had muttered - a teacher with pupils - as they played along.
After the Muddy Waters band had completed the first part of the set, Muddy introduced him with warm generosity, referring to him as "a killer" and "the champ". John Lee's long, thin foot began to tap out the time, his guitar chords established his characteristic drop beat, and the band swung in behing him.
The record opens with I'm Bad Like Jesse James, a dramatic tour de force which reveals the other side of the blues coin retribution for the untrustworthy and indiscreet friend, right down to the bubbling gurgles as he is downed, bound, in the river. The guitars toll doomfully here, too. John Lee sang this one with utter seriousness, a grim expression on his face allthrough, but when he had finished he swung around to Muddy Waters with a big smile.
She's Long, she's Tall is comparatively joyful, the lady's ability to weep like a willow tree evidently being a secondary consideration. When My First Wife Left Me, as John Lee announces afterwards, is "real blues", sorrowing, reflective and philosophical.
"I'm going to say in soulville for a little while", he says, before going into Heartaches and Misery. And the lyrics of this one contain a very appropriate envoi: "Singing for the people who feel the same way I do".
After all, how old do you have to be to get the blues - in 1966 or any other year?
"One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer" isn't the happy drinking song the title suggests. The remorseless beat, the walking tempo (very good for dancing, incidentally), John Lee's relatively unimpassioned delivery together evoke a bitter bar-room picture of someone deliberately drinking to drive the blues away. The slower, wearily resigned "I Don't Want No Trouble" is an excellent example of the effectiveness of the Hooker back beat. Even at this tempo it is mesmeric and infectious, and Otis Spann's brilliant piano accompaniment adds an important dimension. "I'll Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive" is even sadder as the tolling guitars imply man's inevitable fate. "Seven Days" is similarly despairing, but here is hope that the singer's predicament is only temporary.

- Standley Dance

℗ 1967 Ambassador Music Ltd.
Made in England.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Barcode: 5 017261 000392
  • Other: CLP. 3612

Other Versions (5 of 12) View All

Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
BLS-6002 John Lee Hooker Live At Cafe Au-Go-Go(LP, Album) Bluesway BLS-6002 US 1967 Sell This Version
BLS-6002 John Lee Hooker Live At Cafe Au-Go-Go(LP) Bluesway BLS-6002 Canada 1967 Sell This Version
BGOCD39 John Lee Hooker Live At Cafe Au Go-Go(CD, Album, RE) BGO Records BGOCD39 UK Unknown Sell This Version
204 926 John Lee Hooker Live At Cafe Au-Go-Go(LP, Album, RE) MCA Records 204 926 Europe 1982 Sell This Version
BL-6002 John Lee Hooker Live At Cafe Au-Go-Go(LP, Album, Mono) Bluesway BL-6002 US 1967 Sell This Version

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