8 Songs, 32 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

John Lee Hooker’s 1966 album It Serves You Right to Suffer is one of the most unique entries in the guitarist’s massive catalog, and it constitutes one of his most rewarding listening experiences. It was Hooker’s lone album for Impulse, the jazz label that oversaw groundbreaking releases by John Coltrane, Albert Ayler and Charles Mingus. They set up Hooker as they would any jazz leader — with the supervision of master engineer Rudy Van Gelder, and the backing of a rhythm section drawn from the world of R&B and jazz, in this case, bassist Milt Hinton and drummer David “Panama” Francis. The crisp engineering and lithe playing immediately distinguishes the album from the hundreds of other Hooker releases. At the time, blues purists might have whined that the high-minded jazz label was wrongly attempting to refine a gnarled bluesman, but Hooker had always been a sophisticated individual, both musically and mannerly. It Serves You Right… succeeds because it emphasized the regality that had always been implicit, even in his rawest recordings.

EDITORS’ NOTES

John Lee Hooker’s 1966 album It Serves You Right to Suffer is one of the most unique entries in the guitarist’s massive catalog, and it constitutes one of his most rewarding listening experiences. It was Hooker’s lone album for Impulse, the jazz label that oversaw groundbreaking releases by John Coltrane, Albert Ayler and Charles Mingus. They set up Hooker as they would any jazz leader — with the supervision of master engineer Rudy Van Gelder, and the backing of a rhythm section drawn from the world of R&B and jazz, in this case, bassist Milt Hinton and drummer David “Panama” Francis. The crisp engineering and lithe playing immediately distinguishes the album from the hundreds of other Hooker releases. At the time, blues purists might have whined that the high-minded jazz label was wrongly attempting to refine a gnarled bluesman, but Hooker had always been a sophisticated individual, both musically and mannerly. It Serves You Right… succeeds because it emphasized the regality that had always been implicit, even in his rawest recordings.

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