John Lee Hooker Jr.,
Live in Istanbul, Turkey
(Stepping Stone, 2010)

This CD finds John Lee Hooker Jr. and his full band playing at a festival in Istanbul. What sounds like a huge crowd was loud and appreciative, but some of their volume might have stemmed from the fact that Hooker spent a lot of time working up the audience, calling for shoutouts to the other acts, praising the citizenry of Istanbul and, in general, working them like a self-help seminar leader. It distracts from the music, which is actually pretty good.

Hooker has a fine voice, large and booming, and knows how to sell a song. His band is right at home with old-style '70s soul. The horn section is sharp and precise, while Jeff Horan contributes searing guitar leads and James "Gig" Anderson cooks on keyboards. Hooker can cook a ballad and can get funky and bluesy on the uptempo stuff.

In all, Live in Istanbul is a solid album, even though if Hooker had played more to the music and less to the audience, it might have been a classic.

The album also contains a DVD with a video of his song "Extramarital Affair."

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

12 February 2011

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