Essential Listening: Howlin’ Wolf

Smokestack Lightning /The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960 (4CD Box)

"...Wolf migrated to the Windy City and thereafter recorded directly for Leonard and Phil Chess. Within another year, Willie Dixon was brought in as studio bassist and contributing songwriter. The result of these musical interactions was Wolf creating a litany of masterworks throughout his first decade of recording, a stellar songbook that ranged from his great first Chess single, "Moanin' At Midnight" b/w "How Many More Years," through the last session presented on this box set featuring three classic Willie Dixon tunes: "Wang Dang Doodle," "Back Door Man" and "Spoonful." There's also "Evil," "Smokestack Lightnin'," "I Asked For Water," "Sittin' On Top Of The World" and so on.

The 97 tracks here on these 4 CDs (including many rarities) are simply the recordings that established a legend --the crux of the reason The Wolf is celebrated by music fans of all stripes. Accompanying this music is a 45-page booklet filled with historic photos (many quite rare) and two sets of liner notes--one focusing on Sam Phillips and The Wolf by much heralded author Peter Guralnick, and a more general overview of Wolf's first decade of recording by noted blues expert and producer Dick Shurman"