Those that have even dipped their toe into Blues music have likely heard of John Lee Hooker, one of the earliest to adapt Delta blues to an electric guitar. Starting his recording career in the 1940s, there is no shortage of recordings of Hooker’s work floating around. There is, however, a shortage of great sounding reissues of Hooker’s earlier work. Burnin’, which was released in 1962, features Hooker’s signature soulful, raw vocals and groovy, foot-stomping beats that have come to define his style. It was the first time Hooker recorded with a fully electric R&B band and would be the defining album that would chart the course his future recordings would take. For its 60th anniversary, Craft Recordings is reissuing Burnin’ on 180-gram vinyl remastered in stereo from the original analog tapes.
Burnin’ opens with “Boom Boom,” which is a prime example of Hooker’s ability to create upbeat, danceable blues music. The song features a catchy, repetitive guitar riff and Hooker’s passionate, emotive vocals. “Boom Boom” became one of Hooker’s biggest songs and two years after its release was covered by The Animals. “Process” is another standout track on the album, and it showcases Hooker’s ability to create slow, introspective blues ballads. The song features a mournful melody that is driven by Hooker’s fingerpicking and emotive vocals. “Blues Before Sunrise” is a slow, bluesy ballad that showcases Hooker’s Delta blues roots. The lyrics of “Blues Before Sunrise” paint a vivid picture of the Mississippi Delta, and they convey a deep sense of loss and yearning that is both haunting and powerful. “Thelma” is another upbeat, danceable track on the album, and it showcases Hooker’s ability to create catchy, memorable melodies and its upbeat rhythm is sure to get you moving. The lyrics of “Thelma” are playful and lighthearted, and they provide a nice contrast to the more serious, introspective tracks on the album. “Keep Your Hands to Yourself (She’s Mine)” comes across as a bluesy version of “Tequila” by The Champs and is a real foot mover.
John Lee Hooker’s Burnin’ is a classic blues album that showcases the legendary guitarist’s unique blend of Delta blues and Chicago-style electric blues. With its mixture of upbeat, danceable tracks, and slow, introspective ballads, the album is a true testament to Hooker’s genius as a blues artist. If you’re looking to discover the roots of the blues and experience the soulful, raw energy of one of its greatest practitioners, Craft Recordings reissue of Burnin’ is the album for you.