Howlin' Wolf - Howlin' Wolf
5d ago
The History of the Albums - n° 191

[I invite you to read my previous review on Moanin' in the Moonlight - by Howlin' Wolf (1959), to better understand his life and this one.] It's crazy to imagine that the best days of the Blues were during its famous revival period, when most of the songs re-released during that period had been released years or even decades ago. It is for this reason that the Blues offers many more must-have compilations than solo albums, which you must have in your collection. Lately, in my previous Blues reviews, we notice that the beginning of the 60's is marked precisely by an increase of phenomenal compilations, because the Blues market works very well commercially speaking. It's also a story of talent, because when you think about it, many of the main players in the Blues are overwhelming influences on the artists present and those who are coming very soon. Because of their authenticity and their backgrounds/life experiences, the best bluesmen are at the same time innovative, incredibly gifted with their instruments, have voices that are often so charismatic and finally they often show a sincere and brilliant writing. In other popular music genres, the vast majority of top artists are content to have 1 or only 2 of these aspects.

In full confrontation with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf is known to have strongly developed Electric Blues during the 50s. When his label Chess released his first album Moanin' in the Moonlight in 1959 (which is actually a pure compilation), Howlin's Wolf was living on a good reputation, but he didn't have the commercial success that his peers and main rivals had. Yet, nobody doubted his impact and his talent. In spite of his discretion, Moanin' in the Moonlight will leave important traces as soon as it was released, even if finally it is thanks to the new British and American generation that appeared during the 60's that this LP will forge its legend. In reality, Howlin's Wolf was far from being popular. It wasn't on the radio for example. He slowly built up his legacy, but fortunately the future will prove him right. We have to realize that it was not until 1969 that he found, and for one last time, the Billboard R&B ranking. That's to say how much he didn't benefit from the luck that other artists had. At the same time, Howlin' Wolf had a very authentic side, quite raw, which proposed songs with a content that didn't correspond to what the radios and the television were looking for.

Globally, the main part of Howlin' Wolf is concentrated on the first 2 compilations Moanin' in the Moonlight (1959) and Howlin' Wolf released in 1962. A little bit in decline after his single Moanin', Howlin' Wolf regained his form by releasing in July 1960 one of his famous Spoonful classics. He had never equalled such a fantastic performance since 1956 and his other famous Smoke Stack Lightning. His second Howlin' Wolf compilation of singles and some B-sides released between 1959 and 1962 is a remarkable achievement. First of all, unlike Moanin' in the Moonlight which benefited from the "novelty" aspect as well as all the important and striking innovations of the 50s, and which finally regroups songs over 7 years, the Howlin' Wolf album shows how prodigious this artist was. Personally, I think Howlin' Wolf has progressed a lot, just like his sidekick Willie Dixon who always accompanied and wrote for him. Willie Dixon has a great deal of responsibility for the success and legend of Howlin' Wolf. At 52 years of age for Howlin', and 47 years of age for Willie, the two men have proven that they have taken a new step forward, offering truly fabulous songs. Even if the content is much less innovative than on the previous album, all the songs of this one may have marked the following generations much more, thanks to their modernity or/and their achievements, thanks to the delicious Spoonful, Wang-Dang-Doodle, The Red Rooster or Shake For Me. To conclude, even the cover featuring the stereotype of the rockin chair with a guitar, illustrates how everything comes together to build an essential album
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