Early this past August, the music community stopped for a moment to remember John Lee Hooker. The beloved, legendary bluesman would have celebrated his 100th birthday Aug. 22. In honor of the milestone, Craft Recordings, a division of Concord Music Group, released a brand new five-disc, 100-song collection of Hooker’s songs in the form of John Lee Hooker: King of the Boogie only months later on Oct. 6. Originally scheduled for release Sept. 29, the multi-disc compilation is not the first compilation of the famed musician’s works, but it is an impressive new collection nonetheless. That is proven in part through the collection’s featured songs, which will be discussed shortly. The set’s packaging is just as important to note here as its song selection, and will be discussed later. Last but most definitely not least of note in this collection is its average price point. Each element is critical in its own way to the recording’s whole. All things considered, they make John Lee Hooker: King of the Boogie a wonderful musical tribute to a wonderful musical mind.
Craft Recordings’ recently released John Lee Hooker box set King of the Boogie is, simply put, a wonderful musical tribute to a wonderful musical mind. That is due in no small part to the 100 songs that make up the collection’s body. Those songs form the foundation of the set’s presentation. What makes them stand out is the picture that they paint of Hooker’s rich career. Though not presented in chronological order, it does paint a broad, rich picture of Hooker’s career. The collection takes audiences all the way back to Hooker’s earliest days with the likes of ‘Maudie,’ ‘Time is Marching’ and ‘I Love You Honey,’ all of which were released in 1959. It also takes audiences through Hooker’s career with songs from the 60s, 70s and beyond in the likes of ‘Goin’ Mad Blues’ (1969), ‘Unfriendly Woman’ (1977), ‘It serves Me Right’ (1980), ‘Spellbound’ (1997), and ‘When I Lay My Burden Down’ (2017) among so many others. As if the studio recordings are not enough, the set also includes a full disc dedicated solely to Hooker’s live works. That disc, the set’s fourth disc, features live recordings reaching all the way back to 1960. It also features a variety of archived live performances released as recently as 2002 alongside brand new, previously unreleased live performances released for the first time in this collection. Those live recordings add even more depth to the box set’s presentation. Simply put, the songs featured in this collection present one of the most vivid pictures of Hooker’s career that has been released to date. It is not just another random collection put out for the sake of making money. It truly is a celebration of the life and career of a music legend. The set’s featured songs do plenty to celebrate John Lee Hooker’s life and legacy in this new box set, but are not the only items, collectively that serve to celebrate the musical icon so well. The set’s overall packaging goes a long way toward celebrating Hooker and his achievements, too.
King of the Boogie‘s packaging offers audiences just as much to appreciate as its featured songs. Rather than just being a standard, bulky, square box, Craft Recordings has presented the set as a book, with each of its discs inserted safely throughout. It’s an aesthetic element, but still a positive nonetheless. The liner notes presented throughout the book, crafted by John Lee Hooker historian Jas Obrecht and Hooker’s longtime friend Mike Kappus offer their own insight and entertainment for audiences. That is thanks to the fact that the pair does not pull any punches, presenting Hooker’s highs and lows. Along with the fully engaging stories told by Kappus and Obrecht is a bevy of pictures that illustrate the pair’s stories even more both literally and figuratively. The pictures included in the book included ones of him with Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, Hooker with Bonnie Raitt, and solo studio shots of Hooker from his early days alongside other live shots from throughout his career. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then those and the set’s other pictures would certainly have plenty to say, making the set’s presentation that much richer, in turn, showing even more why the set’s packaging is so critical to its presentation. Of course the packaging is only one more of the set’s most important elements. Its average price point rounds out its most important elements.
The average price point of Craft Recordings’ new centennial celebration of John Lee Hooker is important to note because it is a relatively affordable price. Comparing prices between Amazon, Target, Best Buy and Wal-Mart, the set’s average price point sits at approximately $49. Considering the amount of material, both musical and otherwise, included in the collection, such a price is relatively affordable to the average consumer. It would have been easy for those four major outlets to push their prices higher, but they each made certain to keep the set within the average consumer’s price range. That proves even more the importance of the set’s average price point to its overall presentation. When this element is considered alongside the set’s clearly impressive packaging and its equally noteworthy sequencing, the whole of those elements makes King of the Boogie a wonderful way to pay tribute to musical royalty.
Craft Recordings’ recently released five-disc John Lee Hooker box set is a thorough new collection that is certainly a wonderful tribute to the legacy of a great musical mind. That is proven in part through the extensive, 100-song sequence that reaches back to Hooker’s earliest days and beyond. The songs paint a rich picture of Hooker’s career. The set’s packaging is just as important to its whole thanks to its liner notes and pictures. The picture that they paint makes the picture painted by the set’s featured songs all the richer and more vivid. The set’s average price point makes it easily affordable for the average consumer, too. Each element is important in its own right to the set’s presentation. All things considered, they make this set a royally wonderful tribute to one of the music industry’s great names. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Craft Recordings is available online now at:
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