Through the years, Howlin' Wolf's 1964 performances in Germany have reached legendary status. Many different recordings of these concerts have surfaced in many different configurations. Rockin' The Blues: Live in Germany 1964
remained previously unreleased in the United States, until now.
This Acrobat Music set was recorded in Bremen at The American Folk Blues Festival during The Wolf's first overseas tour, and collects nine songs featuring an all-star band of Chicago's finest Blues musiciansguitarist Hubert Sumlin
, bassist Willie Dixon
, pianist Sunnyland Slim
and drummer Clifton James. Wolf's voice is strong, clear, vibrant, raw and gritty, and does a pretty good job accompanying himself on guitar and harp. His been-there/seen-that vocal delivery is a stunning contrast to Sumlin's powerful guitar, the delicate tinkling of Slim's piano, the bounce of Dixon's bass and the drive of James' drums (the man who created the Bo Diddley
beat on "I'm A Man" and "Who Do You Love?").
Recorded at a time when American blues artists were all the rage in Europe, this collection contains some of The Wolf's best-loved and most recognizable songs. Highlighted by the instrumental swinging title song, he also covers Skip James
' classic "Dust My Broom," the fiery "Howlin' For My Darlin,'" Willie Dixon's "Shake It For Me," the slow burn of "Going Down Slow" and the sensitive, slow, blues of "I Didn't Mean To Hurt Your Feelings" and "Love Me." The CD is a raw and wonderful document of a Howlin' Wolf performance, recorded when he and his band were at the height of their powers.
Though the limitation of the source recording is quite evidentthe CD was recorded in mono and the fidelity of the recording isn't state-of-the-art (even for 1964)it's still quite listenable. Audiophiles might find fault with the musiccomplaining that the highs don't reach high enough and the lows don't have the bassy thump that they shouldbut the performances of Rockin' the Blues are electrifying.
Personnel: Howlin' Wolf: vocals, guitar, harmonica; Willie Dixon; vocals, bass; Hubert Sumlin: guitar; Sunnyland Slim; piano; Clifton James: drums.