eMusic Review 0
Only during the late '50s folk revival could you sell out by picking up an acoustic guitar. For at least a decade before 1959's The Country Blues, John Lee Hooker played electric blues aimed primarily at the African-American market, a minimalist electric boogie that sold hundreds of thousands, maybe millions (no one knows for sure), of singles and made Hooker a jukebox hero. But Hooker's market was drying up — the new generation disdained the blues — so, now in his 40s, he turned to acoustic folk music, which was what earnest white kids listened to before there was indie rock. Ironically, the folk crowd deemed acoustic guitar more "authentic" — authenticity apparently being limited, as critic Ed Ward once japed, to "aged black men playing an acoustic instrument" — even though the truly authentic African-American folk music had been played on electric guitars for many years.
So Hooker's regular label Vee-Jay loaned him out to the venerable New York jazz imprint Riverside for his first proper acoustic recordings, not to mention his first proper albums. (The excellent Burning Hell, released years later, comes from the same sessions.) The gambit worked: Country Blues was a success and Hooker, now… read more »