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January/February 1999

John Lee Hooker
The Best of Friends
Pointblank Records

Though his best work is decades behind him, ageless icon John Lee Hooker continues to convey the timeless spirit of the blues in recent outings. The Best of Friends (Pointblank 7243 8 46424 2 6; 63:30) is a compilation of his four guest-heavy collections for Virgin/Pointblank-1997's Don't Look Back, 1995's Chill Out, 1992's Boom Boom and 1991's Mr. Lucky -as well as his 1989 breakout album for Chameleon, The Healer. Highlights include a dramatic vocal duet with Van Morrison on "I Cover the Waterfront," a soulful call-and-response with Bonnie Raitt on "I'm In The Mood" and a raucous romp through "Boom Boom" with Jimmie Vaughan. "The Healer" has Hooker a bit out of his element, guesting on a contempo-mambo with the Carlos Santana band. Bonus tracks include a new version of his 1948 hit "Boogie Chillen," recorded 50 years later with Eric Clapton, and a recent recording of "Burnin' Hell" featuring young blues star Ben Harper on slide guitar with blues harp legend Charlie
Musselwhite honking up a storm.

Originally published in January/February 1999
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