244

Earl Hooker: There's A Fungus Amung Us

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
The reasons behind Earl Hooker’s lack of public notoriety are not difficult to discern when his discography is stacked up against that of his more famous cousin John Lee Hooker. The bulk of Earl’s legacy lies in the prolific, but largely anonymous session work he did for labels like Chief, Chess and King and it wasn’t until late 1960s that he had the chance to secure an album of his own. The reasons behind his late blooming status as a leader had nothing to do with his acumen on guitar- he was easily one of the finest fret players in the business. They were more a product of unlucky circumstance and the reality that his singing voice was not up to par with many of his peers. Still his impressive guitar skills eventually garnered him enough clout to cut his own dates and this recent reissue revives one of his rarest.

Skirting the issue of his less than stunning pipes the twelve tracks are all instrumental frameworks for his variegated guitar. Heavy boogaloo grooves, organ slathered riffs, fatback bass and backbeat drums all lock together to form an undercurrent for Hooker’s spotlight guitar. On the tenacious funk of the title track he unrolls an ethereal web of tremolo-soaked slide patterns as the enigmatic drummer knocks out a syncopated rhythm on a cowbell and the bass bubbles along with a hip shaking ostinato. Dipping into the Stax songbook the band raises up a rousing rendition of “Hold On” again hinging on Hooker’s greasy slide work. Elmore James’ seminal slide classic “Dust My Broom” receives an organ friendly reworking replete with honking sax that is surprisingly sparse on bottleneck. Chitlin’ circuit funk opens side two in the guise of “Bertha” with vamping Junior Parker style sax and chicken-scratch guitar laying a thick coat of soul on the slippery theme. With “The Foxtrot” the band veers weirdly into teenage ballad territory winding through a syrupy series of changes drenched in heavy amplification. The effect on “End of the Blues” conjures what the Ventures might sound like if they could craft a convincing blues record, while “Hooker Special” finds the guitarist showing off his affection for Country roots by crafting some convincing lap steel style slide.

Two mystery tracks append the disc, presumably cut from the same session, the second and final meshing wah-wah and reverb-laden guitar in a rocking amalgam with over-amplified harp. R. Crumb’s anomie-evoking cover of various cartoon caricatures crammed together in front of a distant cityscape seems an odd match for the music, but adds to the album’s off-kilter charm and works well with its title. Hooker’s full-length records may be few in number, but this one rates highly in their ranks.

Catfish Records on the web: http://www.catfishrecords.co.uk/


Track Listing: Two Bugs In a Rug/ Hold On/ Off the Hook/ Dust My Broom/ Hot and Heavy/ Bertha/ The Foxtrot/ End of the Blues/ Walkin

Personnel: Earl Hooker-electric guitar; probably Jimmy Dawkins- guitar; unknown saxophone, organ, bass and drums. Recorded: sometime in the late 60s?

Title: There's A Fungus Amung Us | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Catfish Records (UK)


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson" CD/LP/Track Review Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 31, 2017
Read "The Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" CD/LP/Track Review The Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake" CD/LP/Track Review Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "Amour Cruel" CD/LP/Track Review Amour Cruel
by Peter Jurew
Published: July 29, 2017
Read "Live in Concert" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Concert
by David Becker
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Which Craft?" CD/LP/Track Review Which Craft?
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 28, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.