Howlin’ Wolf: Little Red Rooster

The 1962 collection of such seminal Wolf singles as Little Red Rooster and Spoonful reappears with six bonus tracks


This was one of Wolf’s most popular and successful records. One of the earliest Chicago electric blues albums, it now comes back in fresh packaging with no less than six bonus tracks, all singles that the bluesman recorded between 1952 and 1962.

Shake For Me begins the programme, Wolf’s voice full of gravel and sawdust. Hubert Sumlin’s solo is a good example of downhome electric blues guitar. Little Red Rooster is a strong example of raw, basic blues. Mick Jagger and the Rolling stones had a good version of it in the mid-60s but this is the no-frills original, full of blues licks and down-to-earth rhythm.

This music may have been as basic as it comes but in the hands of these masters, it packs a significant melodic and rhythmic punch. If Wolf’s guttural voice sometimes recalls phases heard on Rolling Stones records as sung by Jagger, no surprise there, this is where Mick learned that style of singing. He wasn’t alone. Paul Jones of Manfred Mann cut his teeth on Wolf albums back in the day. Wang Dang Doodle is a very tasty 12-bar with Wolf in strong vocal form, Sumlin’s guitar blazing and Otis Spann providing jagged piano chords.

The Wolf rocks solidly on Little Baby with the rhythm players belting it out behind him. Spoonful is a standout track, a loping, visceral exercise in sturdy country blues. Little Red Rooster is another winner along with Going Down Slow and Howlin’ For My Baby.

This record should appeal to all jazz folks who will recognise many of the blues licks employed in the jazz canon. It should also appeal to lovers of Beatles, Stones and other 60s rock groups if they are interested in hearing where their music came from.

Shake For Me; The Red Rooster; You’ll Be Mine; Who’s Been Talkin’; Wang Dang Doodle; Little Baby; Going Back Home; Tail Dragger; I’m The Wolf; Spoonful; Going Down Slow; Down In The Bottom; Back Door Man; Howlin’ For My Baby; Tell Me; I’ve Been Abused; You Gonna Wreck My Life; Poor Boy (48.52)
Howlin’ Wolf (v, elg, harm); with various ts, guitar, bass, drums, piano. Arkansas, 1952 & Chicago, 1954-1962.
Blues Joint 8002