John Lee Hooker

Face to Face (Eagle Records)

It's fitting that John Lee Hooker's final release finds him takin' care of business. The blues legend, who essentially invented the boogie sound as most modern listeners understand it, was still weaving his smoldering spell before he passed away two years ago. His daughter Zakiya put some final, mostly successful production touches on these sessions, and the results make for a nice farewell.

Those geeked on the primitive Fat Possum phenomenon of the past few years should have no problem connecting with this Mississippi/Motown master's hoodoo energy. Face to Face kicks off in solid boogie mode. "Big Road" features the first of several batches of strong slide-guitar backup. It also displays the first of Zakiya's subtle add-ons: Jefferson Starship/Hot Tuna bassist Jack Casady's bass line fits into the rhythm scheme as if he'd been present at the outset. John Lee and original session guest Van Morrison have fun trading verses on Hooker's classic "Dimples," and the old master is still convincingly serious on "Serves Me Right to Suffer." Yes, Hooker's voice and guitar show his age, but the Lion in Winter still had some growl.

 
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