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John Lee Hooker – The Healer (1989)

July 27, 2018

[Album 611/1001]

Is there anyone less trustworthy than a self-proclaimed healer?

A snake oil salesperson, someone who knowingly makes false health claims when selling products/services?

When it’s fiction, it can be fun, like in the film Pete’s Dragon, or the Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney Say Say Say video.

The non-fiction scams? Considerably less amusing.

Given that preamble, I was nervous when I picked up this album.

So, the album’s called The Healer?

And the front cover appears to be someone attempting to look messianic, or to borrow a Soundgarden tune, making a Jesus Christ Pose?

*Fraud detector alarm rings uncontrollably!*

.

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.

Of course, my fears were wildly misguided.

While he may have been a touring musician, on The Healer, he certainly doesn’t sound like a travelling salesman.

And whereas many ‘healing’ products also have a list of unpleasant side effects in the fine print, check out the fine print on the album cover above.

Instead of a lengthy list of side effects, there’s a long list of (highly reputable) special JohnLeeHooker_TheHealer1guests!

I quite liked Bonnie Raitt’s contributions on I’m in the Mood and though it was 10 years too early to be a part of Santana’s Supernatural album, the title track would have worked nicely there too.

Even more encouraging, the album highlight for me, Rockin’ Chair, does not feature a single guest star. Nor does it seem to feature any amplification or overdubs.

Just John Lee Hooker, frantically playing his National Steel Guitar, singing about rocking his blues away.

For any sort of ailment, that sounds like a pretty good prescription to me.

…..

Verbalize the Positive

J’adore les vacances!

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From → 1980s

14 Comments
  1. This is classic 1001, Geoff. Clever but never smartypants, respectful sans sycophancy and preaching the good news of the Rev JL Hooker!
    Given your response to “Rockin Chair”, I’d highly recommend a collection of Hooker’s early material if you don’t already have one.
    As for the Bonnie Raitt collaboration*, have another listen with Mrs 1001 after the girls are in slumberland. Unless, of course, you don’t want any more little hundreds and thousands.

    * There’s a fabulous clip of Bonnie and John Lee doing this live.

    • Much appreciated Bruce!
      I quite like that description 😀
      It’s interesting hearing an artist for the first time when it’s in the twilight of their career – I’m keen to hear his earlier stuff, especially if it’s rocking chair-esque!

      • The early stuff is riveting, Geoff. Stuttering, rolling rhythms often executed with his foot on a sheet of plywood… great stuff.

  2. Great record. I don’t own a lot of JLH records but I have this one and I love it

  3. Any fella with the last name Hooker deserves respect! haha
    Great spin on it..Recall it coming out in 89 around the same time as SRV’s In Step!
    Damn I miss 89!

    • My thanks Deke – and the good news? In 2019, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some nice anniversary editions of some of those ’89 albums!

      • Hope so..
        I would love an deluxe version of In Step by Vaughn…
        His Couldn’t Stand The Weather reissue was excellent with a full show added from Montreal on that 84 tour…
        Supreme excellent stuff!

      • Always nice to see Canadian venues for live albums!

  4. Ooooo yes! Instant Like for the JLH. I have this one and it’s fantastic. Yes yes yes!

    • It’s my first JLH experience – but it won’t be the last!

      • First? Wowzers. Man, I grew up on that guy. He was in the pile with Muddy and B.B. and Robert (johnson) and Willie (Dixon) and the Wolf and all the greats – I always say I was the jazz kid, I suppose I ought to say I was the jazz AND blues kid!

        As for going forward, it’s simple: get ALL the John Lee Hooker. Simple!

  5. Not his best, IMHO but pretty darn good. JLH is at his best when he is raw and less processed. Bonnie Raitt is an absolute highlight.

    • Encouraging to hear that there’s even better stuff in the catalogue – and agreed about the last 2 sentences!

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