Howlin´ WOLF – The Howlin´ Wolf Album 1968

Howlin´ WOLF – The Howlin´ Wolf Album 1968


The Howlin’ Wolf Album is a 1969 album by Howlin’ Wolf which mixed blues with psychedelic rock arrangements on several of Howlin’ Wolf’s classic songs. Howlin’ Wolf strongly disliked the album, and Chess Records referenced this fact on the album’s cover. The album peaked at #69 on the Billboard Black Albums chart.

In 1968, Chess Records made an attempt to modernize the sound of bluesmen Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters by convincing them to record Jimi Hendrix-inspired psychedelic arrangements resulting in the albums Electric Mud and The Howlin’ Wolf Album.The recording sessions for The Howlin’ Wolf Album featured the same musicians as Electric Mud. Howlin’ Wolf disliked the proposed sound, which he did not consider to be blues.According to guitarist Pete Cosey, during the recording sessions, Howlin’ Wolf “looked at me and he said ‘Why don’t you take them wah-wahs and all that other shit and go throw it off in the lake — on your way to the barber shop?'”

Marshall Chess referred to Howlin’ Wolf’s dislike of the arrangements on the album’s cover.Howlin’ Wolf took exception to the blurb, as he had enthusiastically adopted the use of electric guitar, and had led the first entirely electric blues combo in West Memphis in the early 1950s.Howlin’ Wolf stated that the album was “dog shit”.According to Chess, the album’s cover hurt its sales. Chess states that “I used negativity in the title, and it was a big lesson: You can’t say on the cover that the artist didn’t like the album. It didn’t really sell that well. But it was just an attempt. They were just experiments.”

The Howlin’ Wolf Album did not sell as well as Electric Mud.The Howlin’ Wolf Album peaked at #69 on the Billboard Black Albums chart.The album’s single, “Evil”, peaked at #43 on the Black Singles chart.
The Wolf dubbed this LP ‘dog shit’, and many blues purists agreed with him. Like his peer Muddy Waters, the Wolf was none too enthused about psych-ing and funking up his sound.

So, is it a steaming pile of dog doo? If you can dig Muddy’s ‘Electric Mud’, then it certainly ain’t. There’s the same nasty, filthy, super raw vibe here that prevails on Muddy’s much maligned psych-funk outing.
“Spoonful” is just lowdown, funkatised blues-rock at its stankiest… The Wolf howls like always, with that big, crackeling voice of his, and guitarist Pete Cosey and drummer Morgan Jennings put in that muddied, electrified, rockin’ psych-soul sound…
The fuzz comes on especially strong on a funked up rendition of “Tail Dagger” and it gets even greasier on “Smokestack Lightnin'”, which cooks up a groove so down low and in-the-pocket it’s insane…
“Moanin’ at Midnight” finds a way to incorporate the sitar – a staple of the hippest psychedelic bands around at the time – but it’s pretty traditional for the rest… A lurching, droning, one-chorded groove featuring some deep down Mississippah harmonica wailings. But the smelly groove juice of the funk-in-motion is back for a lazy, sleazed, cruisin’ take on “Built for Comfort”.
“The Red Rooster” is barely recognizable; riding a busy beat and a swampy guitar groove, it drones on relentlessly. The same stutter steppin’ rhythm propels “Evil”, turning it into a strange, trippy, wah wah-infested rocker. But the most intrictate rhythmic pattern is reserved for “Down in the Bottom”, with its busy drums and pumping bass.
It’s back to the Funk with another swangin’ jam in the guise of “Three Hundred Pounds of Joy”, after which Howlin’ goes for his, churning out the sole traditional blues piece here. Before sockin’ into “Back Door Man”, the Wolf laments on how ‘the music these days ain’t the Blues… it’s just a good rhythm they carry’…
Be that as it may, for those into fuzzed rock and psych-funk, this is a pretty sweet smelling serving.
By Soulmakossa.
Howlin’ Wolf— Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Gene Barge— Horn & Electric Sax
Pete Cosey— Guitar & Bowed Guitar
Hubert Sumlin- Guitar
Roland Faulkner— Guitar
Don Myrick— Flute
Louis Satterfield— Bass
Phil Upchurch— Bass & Guitar
Morris Jennings— Drums
Side A
A1. Spoonful (Dixon) 3:52
A2. Tail Dragger (Dixon) 4:33
A3. Smokestack Lightning (Howlin’ Wolf) 3:56
A4. Moanin’ at Midnight (Howlin’ Wolf, Taub) 3:15
A5. Built for Comfort (Dixon) 5:11

Side B
B1. The Red Rooster (Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf 3:50
B2. Evil (Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf) 4:06
B3. Down in the Bottom (Dixon) 2:45
B4. Three Hundred Pounds of Joy (Dixon) 2:35
B5. Back Door Man (Dixon) 6:51

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