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mjzee

John Lee Hooker - Documenting The Sensation Recordings 1948-52 (Ace)

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There's a new 3-CD box from Ace, stating that it is "John Lee Hooker's 1948-1952 recordings made in Detroit, Michigan by Bernard Besman; includes 19 previously unissued versions."  

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I bought it because I've been intrigued by these sessions since I saw reissues on United Artists in the early '70's.  Sad to say, Ace was a little loosy-goosy with their wording and promotion.

The accompanying booklet reveals "These three CDs do not contain any sides that appeared in this form on either the United Artist or Greene Bottle releases."

I remembered the Detroit recordings being reissued in a 1-LP, 2-LP, and 3-LP form, with no duplications.  The 1-LP and 3-LP were issued by United Artists; the 2-LP was on Greene Bottle.

This was the 1-LP on UA, "Anywhere, Anytime, Anyplace":

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This was the 3-LP on UA, "John Lee Hooker's Detroit":

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Both of these LP sets were reissued on this 3-CD set, "Alternative Boogie":

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The 2-LP set on Greene Bottle was titled "Johnny Lee"; best I can tell, it has never been issued on CD:

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So in order to have the complete Sensation recordings 1948-52, you'd need to have the Ace, "Alternative Boogie," and the Greene Bottle LP.

Ace included a sessionography in their booklet, but only of the titles included in their box.  No clue how the UA or Greene titles fit in there.

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Nice summation of the history of these recordings. I was a bit disappointed in the set for the same reasons although quite happy with the sound quality. I wish the notes would have been more in-depth as well. Here's some more details that I wrote down as I plan on spotlighting the Sensation label on my radio program:

Ace acquired a lot of John Lee Hooker sides when they purchased the Sensation label from Bernie Besman. This collection contains all of the Ace-owned Besman John Lee Hooker sides gathered in one place for the first time. Bernie had also sold some sides to United Artists and to Greene Bottle before then. Those previously sold sides showed up on a double LP on Green Bottle titled Johnny Lee in 1972. It was not the first "alternate" Besman issue; Specialty Records and United Artists had already come up with three LPs during 1970-71 (Alone and Goin' Down Highway 51 on Specialty and Coast To Coast Blues Band -Any Where Any Time Any Place on United Artists). In 1973 United Artists issued the three album set, John Lee Hooker's Detroit which which was issued on a 3-CD set in 1995 as Alternative Boogie: Early Studio Recordings 1948-1952 which included additional material.

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Are the Specialty albums available anywhere else?

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2 hours ago, mjzee said:

Are the Specialty albums available anywhere else?

You mean, have they been reissued or is the material elsewhere? I'm not sure.

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Looking into this further, I found that there was a Japanese release on P-Vine in 1992 titled "Alone - The Specialty Sessions 1948-1954", which had all the titles on the two Specialty albums plus additional tracks:

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https://www.discogs.com/John-Lee-Hooker-Alone-The-Specialty-Sessions-1948-1954/release/13157729

To make sense of all this, I created a spreadsheet with all titles on the Ace, Alternative Boogie, Greene Bottle, and P-Vine releases, and sorted the titles alphabetically.  Of the 38 titles on the P-Vine release, 12 titles are not available elsewhere.  Perhaps the titles on P-Vine that I don't see elsewhere have different titles on another release.  To take an obvious example, "Boogie Chillen 2 (I Gotta Be Comin' Back)" on P-Vine is almost definitely "I Gotta Be Comin' Back" on Alternative Boogie.  The titles only on the P-Vine are "Don't Trust Nobody," "Everybody's Blues," "Four Women In My Life," "I Been Done So Wrong (Takes 1 and 2)," "I Do Like I Please," "I Need Love So Bad," "I'm Mad," "Locked Up In Jail," "Nothin' But Trouble," "Odds Against Me," and "Reach My Goal (Find Me A Woman)."  

None of the other Sensation titles are duplicated on other releases; each appears on only one of the four albums.  The question remains: are there yet more titles that haven't been reissued?

21 Boogie

P-Vine (Specialty)

Alberta

DTSR (Ace)

Alberta

P-Vine (Specialty)

Alberta (Alt Take)

DTSR (Ace)

Alberta Part 2

DTSR (Ace)

Alberta Pt. 2

P-Vine (Specialty)

Baby Please Don't Go

Alternative Boogie

Baby, I Prove My Love To You

Greene Bottle

Black Cat Blues

DTSR (Ace)

Black Cat Blues

P-Vine (Specialty)

Bluebird Blues

DTSR (Ace)

Boogie Chillen 2 (I Gotta Be Comin' Back)

P-Vine (Specialty)

Boogie Chillen'

DTSR (Ace)

Boogie Chillen' #2

DTSR (Ace)

Boogie Chillen' #2 (Aka 21 Boogie) (Extended Version)

DTSR (Ace)

Boogie Chillen' #2 (Take 1)

DTSR (Ace)

Boogie Chillen' #2 (Take 2)

DTSR (Ace)

Boogie Chillen' #2 (Take 4)

DTSR (Ace)

Build Myself A Cave

P-Vine (Specialty)

Build Myself A Cave (Aka The World Is In A Tangle) (Take #1)

DTSR (Ace)

Build Myself A Cave (Specialty LP Version)

DTSR (Ace)

Build Myself A Cave (Take #2)

DTSR (Ace)

Build Myself A Cave (Take #3)

DTSR (Ace)

Burnin' Hell

DTSR (Ace)

Burnin' Hell

P-Vine (Specialty)

Can I Say Hello

Alternative Boogie

Canal Street Blues

DTSR (Ace)

Canal Street Blues

P-Vine (Specialty)

Come Back Baby

Alternative Boogie

Crawlin' King Snake

DTSR (Ace)

Crazy 'Bout That Woman

Greene Bottle

Crying All Night

Alternative Boogie

Do My Baby Think Of Me

P-Vine (Specialty)

Do My Baby Think Of Me?

DTSR (Ace)

Don't Trust Nobody

P-Vine (Specialty)

Dream A Number

Greene Bottle

Drifting From Door To Door

DTSR (Ace)

Everybody's Blues

P-Vine (Specialty)

Forgive Me

Alternative Boogie

Four Women In My Life

P-Vine (Specialty)

Give Me Your Phone Number (Alt Take)

DTSR (Ace)

Goin' Down Highway 51

P-Vine (Specialty)

Goin' On Highway #51

DTSR (Ace)

Graveyard Blues

DTSR (Ace)

Graveyard Blues

P-Vine (Specialty)

Grinder Man

DTSR (Ace)

Grinder Man

P-Vine (Specialty)

Hastings Street Boogie

P-Vine (Specialty)

Hastings Street Boogie (Extended Version)

DTSR (Ace)

He Got Assassinated

Greene Bottle

Henry's Swing Club

DTSR (Ace)

Henry's Swing Club

P-Vine (Specialty)

Hobo Blues

DTSR (Ace)

Hoogie Boogie (Instrumental)

DTSR (Ace)

How Can You Do It

DTSR (Ace)

How Long Can This Go On

Alternative Boogie

Howlin' Wolf

DTSR (Ace)

Huckle Up Baby

DTSR (Ace)

Huckle Up Baby

P-Vine (Specialty)

Hummin' The Blues

Alternative Boogie

I Been Done So Wrong (Take 1)

P-Vine (Specialty)

I Been Done So Wrong (Take 2)

P-Vine (Specialty)

I Come To You Baby

Alternative Boogie

I Cried The Whole Night

Greene Bottle

I Did Everything

Alternative Boogie

I Do Like I Please

P-Vine (Specialty)

I Don't Be Welcome Here

Alternative Boogie

I Got Drunk (Take I)

Greene Bottle

I Got Drunk (Take II)

Greene Bottle

I Got Drunk (Take III)

Greene Bottle

I Got Eyes For You

DTSR (Ace)

I Got Eyes For You (Take 2 Or Take 5)

DTSR (Ace)

I Got The Key (Aka Key To The Highway)

DTSR (Ace)

I Gotta Be Comin' Back

Alternative Boogie

I Had A Dream

Alternative Boogie

I Met The Grindin' Man

Alternative Boogie

I Need Love So Bad

P-Vine (Specialty)

I Need Lovin'

P-Vine (Specialty)

I Need Lovin' (Aka Tease Me Over Baby)

DTSR (Ace)

I Rule My Den

Alternative Boogie

I Was Beggin' My Baby

Alternative Boogie

I Work For Her Every Day

Greene Bottle

I'm Going Away

Alternative Boogie

I'm Gonna Whip Ya Baby

Alternative Boogie

I'm In The Mood (Alt One Voice)

DTSR (Ace)

I'm In The Mood (Humming Version)

DTSR (Ace)

I'm In The Mood (Three Voice)

DTSR (Ace)

I'm In The Mood (With Harmonica Overdub)

DTSR (Ace)

I'm Mad

P-Vine (Specialty)

If You Need My Lovin' Baby

Greene Bottle

It Hurts Me So

DTSR (Ace)

It Hurts Me So (Alt Take)

DTSR (Ace)

It's A Crime And A Shame

Alternative Boogie

It's Time For Lovin' To Be Done

DTSR (Ace)

John L's House Rent Boogie (Aka House Rent Boogie)

DTSR (Ace)

John L's House Rent Boogie (Fragment) (Alt Incomplete Take)

DTSR (Ace)

Johnny Lee And The Thing

Alternative Boogie

Johnny Lee's Mood

Alternative Boogie

Johnny Lee's Original Boogie

Alternative Boogie

Johnny Says Come Back

Alternative Boogie

Jump Chillun

Greene Bottle

Just Like A Woman

Alternative Boogie

Key To The Highway

DTSR (Ace)

Let Your Daddy Ride

DTSR (Ace)

Locked Up In Jail

P-Vine (Specialty)

Long, Long Way From Home

Alternative Boogie

Lord Taketh My Baby Away

Alternative Boogie

Lord What More Can I Do

Alternative Boogie

Louisiana Blues For You

Alternative Boogie

Me And A Woman

Alternative Boogie

Miss Eloise, Miss Eloise

Alternative Boogie

Miss Sadie Mae

DTSR (Ace)

Miss Sadie Mae

P-Vine (Specialty)

Momma Poppa Boogie

DTSR (Ace)

Momma Poppa Boogie

P-Vine (Specialty)

Moon Is Rising

Alternative Boogie

Moon Is Rising (Alt Take)

DTSR (Ace)

Movin' On Down The Line

Greene Bottle

My Baby She's Long And Tall

Alternative Boogie

My Baby's Got Somethin'

DTSR (Ace)

My Baby's Got Somethin'

P-Vine (Specialty)

My Own Boogie

Greene Bottle

No Mortgage On My Soul

Alternative Boogie

No Place To Stay

Greene Bottle

Nobody To Talk To Me

Alternative Boogie

Nothin' But Trouble

P-Vine (Specialty)

Numbers Blues (Aka She Ain’t Good For Nothin’)

DTSR (Ace)

Odds Against Me

P-Vine (Specialty)

Out The Door I Went

Alternative Boogie

Please Have Mercy

Greene Bottle

Queen Bee

DTSR (Ace)

Reach My Goal (Find Me A Woman)

P-Vine (Specialty)

Rock Me Mama (Take I)

Greene Bottle

Rock Me Mama (Take II)

Greene Bottle

Rock Me Mama (Take III)

Greene Bottle

Roll 'N' Roll (Alt Take)

DTSR (Ace)

Rollin' Blues

DTSR (Ace)

Rollin' Blues

P-Vine (Specialty)

Sail On Little Girl

DTSR (Ace)

Sail On Little Girl

P-Vine (Specialty)

Sailing Blues

P-Vine (Specialty)

Sailing Blues (Aka Drifting Blues)

DTSR (Ace)

Sally Mae

DTSR (Ace)

See, See Baby

Greene Bottle

She Ain't Good For Nuthin'

Greene Bottle

She Left Be Myself

Alternative Boogie

She Quit Me

Alternative Boogie

She Was In Chicago

Alternative Boogie

Slow Down Your Chatter Baby

Alternative Boogie

Snap Them Fingers Boogie

Alternative Boogie

Someone To Love - Take 1

Alternative Boogie

Someone To Love - Take 2

Alternative Boogie

Sometime

Alternative Boogie

Streets Is Filled With Women

Alternative Boogie

Strike Blues

P-Vine (Specialty)

Strike Blues (Extended Version)

DTSR (Ace)

T.B's Killin' Me

Alternative Boogie

Tease Me Baby

Greene Bottle

Tease Me Baby (Aka Tease Me Over Baby)

DTSR (Ace)

Tell You A Story

Greene Bottle

That's All Right

DTSR (Ace)

That's All Right Boogie (Under Dub)

DTSR (Ace)

The Great Disaster Of 1936

Alternative Boogie

The Moon Above

Greene Bottle

The Story Of A Married Woman

Alternative Boogie

The Story Of A Married Woman (Alt Take)

DTSR (Ace)

The Sweetest Girl I Know

Greene Bottle

The Winding Highway

Alternative Boogie

There's A Day Comin' Baby

Alternative Boogie

Three Long Years Today

DTSR (Ace)

Three Long Years Today

P-Vine (Specialty)

Three Voice Original Mood

Alternative Boogie

Throw My Money Around

Alternative Boogie

Throw This Old Dog A Bone

Alternative Boogie

Troubles In My Home

Greene Bottle

Turn Over A New Leaf

DTSR (Ace)

Turnin' Grey Blues

Alternative Boogie

Two Voice Original Mood

Alternative Boogie

Walkin' This Highway

DTSR (Ace)

Walkin' This Highway

P-Vine (Specialty)

War Is Over (Goodbye California)

P-Vine (Specialty)

War Is Over (Goodbye California) (Alt Extended Version)

DTSR (Ace)

War Is Over (Goodbye California) (Alt Take)

DTSR (Ace)

War Is Over (Goodbye California) (Extended Version)

DTSR (Ace)

We Might As Well Say We're Through

Greene Bottle

Wednesday Evening

DTSR (Ace)

Weeping Willow Boogie

DTSR (Ace)

Welfare Blues

Alternative Boogie

Well I Got To Leave

Alternative Boogie

Whistle Done Blown

Alternative Boogie

Women In My Life (Aka Goin' Away Baby)

DTSR (Ace)

You Sure Look Good To Me

Greene Bottle

You've Got Another Man

Greene Bottle

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Posted (edited)

Impressive work! I don't really have anything to add to this. One of the many confusing things about Hooker's early discography is that it seems the titles are sometimes named different for the same songs depending on the the release.

For my upcoming radio show I digitized the Green Bottle LP. I threw it up on Dropbox if anyone's interested: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/oz530zex4bk66t8/AAB59QrqE5jZjtZMdtDTJjnaa?dl=0

There is also a very detailed Hooker discography online that was last updated in 2019: http://www.angelfire.com/mn/coasters/HookerSessionDiscography.pdf

Edited by nighthawk68

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Posted (edited)

,This is a very good release.  it has better sound quality than any previous releases of this music, and contains a dozen or so tracks that have never been released before in any form, and are not included in existing discographies.   I highly recommend this set. 

I agree that it is unfortunate that they left off the Besman alternate sides previously released on Greene Bottle and United (Capitol),.  

All of these sides did appear on CD in the 12-CD French release of all the (then known) Detroit John Lee Hooker sides on Body and Soul records.  The Body & Soul set also includes recordings from the time that were released on other labels like King, Gotham, Chance, and Savoy. 

This new set plus the Body & Soul discs plus "The Unknown John Lee Hooker" on Flyright will give you all the known early John Lee Hooker except maybe a few tracks (see below). 

For the tracks released on Specialty listed above that don't appear on Ace, Greene Bottle, or United (Capitol), I don't believe that Ace deliberately excluded Specialty-released tracks from the new set.  Most of the tracks listed above that are only on the P-Vine release date from 1954, and were not even recorded by Besman.  The new set only goes up to May, 1952.  That said, the omission of Reach My Goal from the new set would seem to be a mistake.  It was recorded in 1951 and has been included on a previous Ace CD.  

All of these tracks issued on P-Vine would appear to be on the Body & Soul set except for (curiously) the second take of I Been Done So Wrong.    

 

 

Edited by John L

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Actually, I just noticed that the new set is even less complete than I thought it was.  Quite a few Modern tracks recorded for Besman that belong to Ace (i.e. not on Greene Bottle or UA) are not here.  In some cases, they substituted alternates for the masters,    

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I just communicated with someone who was involved in producing this set.  He says that quite a lot of material was sold to United Artists, including some of the masters .    He verified that this set plus the Greene Bottle and UA releases include all of the recordings made for Besman.  Of course, there were a lot of recordings from the time, as well as after 1952, that were not made for Besman.  

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so where does the stuff issued on Savoy originate? I love that period.

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Posted (edited)

11 hours ago, AllenLowe said:

so where does the stuff issued on Savoy originate? I love that period.

Allen - Almost all of the tracks released on Savoy were recorded by Elmer Barbee, who was Hooker's first manager, and began recording him even before Besman.   The best come from a very early session in November, 1948 (Grievin' Blues, Shady Grove Blues, Landing Blues, Goin' Mad Blues...).   Barbee made some other great recordings at the time in the same vein that he sold to King records - some of Hooker's best (IMO).  

There is also a very good down home 1961 session with a band released on Savoy called Sad and Lonesome.  

John 

Edited by John L

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thanks, yeah, Grievin' Blues is the deepest stuff I've ever heard. Beware the original Savoy CD reissue where they really botched the sound - I found a Euro version in which they didn't go crazy on denoising.

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