Tuesday, November 13, 2012

153. Moanin in the Moonlight



Album: Moanin in the Moonlight
Artist: Howlin Wolf
Genre: Blues
Year: 1959


Tracks


  1. Moanin' at Midnight
  2. How Many More Years
  3. Smokestack Lightnin'
  4. Baby How Long
  5. No Place to Go
  6. All Night Boogie
  7. Evil
  8. I'm Leavin' You
  9. Moanin' for My Baby
  10. I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)
  11. Forty-Four
  12. Somebody in My Home
Moanin at Midnight is one of those strange artefacts that comes to us from a point in time that has long been superseded. In the 1950's, blues artists just weren't focused on releasing albums, the LP was a format that they basically ignored. Single's were the domain of the bluesman. They'd step into a studio and lay down a song they'd mastered over countless live performances, have a quick smoke and then put down another track to make up the B side. Then they'd go back on the road where they felt they belonged. The idea of recording another ten tracks to make up an entire album never crossed anyone's mind. 

It was only much later that record labels released blues albums. By collecting a few singles and B sides together in the once place they created an album that they could release for those who missed out on collecting the singles or those who wanted them all together in the one place. There are songs on Moanin that are eight years old sitting next to tracks that were recorded the year before. They don't sound noticeably different because Wolf didn't really develop his sound much. Some artists change completely in eight years but great bluesmen don't mutate they just get bluer. 

For a short period of time the only way you could get your hands on these songs was by purchasing this slab of vinyl but when CD's came in everything changed. Wolf become the subject of dozens of compilations which collected not just his greatest hits but his entire recorded output in the one place. This release has been well and truly superseded but there is no one album which can take it's place. It's no exaggeration to say there are four new Howlin Wolf compilations released every year on average. There were 7 released in 2002 alone. It's now impossible to get exactly this album without having Howlin Wolf one of his other albums tacked on as well.

But none of that does anything to dilute the significance of this collection of blues songs. This is the album that Jimmy Page got How Many More Years, Clapton got Smokestack Lightning, and Canned Heat got Evil from. It may have even been one of the albums that Jagger was holding on a train station which made Keith Richards seek him out. It deserves its place in rock history.

As for the music: Howlin Wolf is an amazing vocalist and you can't argue with a band that includes appearances by Willie Dixon, Hubert Sumlin, Otis Span, Ike Turner and Willie Johnson. The big singles are fantastic and while some of the Bsides mightn't be as good they certainly won't have you reaching for the skip button. It's great stuff but totally unnecessary today. If you want to hear it just go into any CD store and ask for a Howlin Wolf compilation. If they don't have any then just wait a few minutes for the next one to be released.

Highlight: Smokestack Lightning
Lowlight: Forty Four

Influenced by: Robert Johnson
Influenced: Rock and Roll

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "You get to hear that and a whole bunch more, including the Howlin's music on the Viagra Ad you may have heard lately."

-I had no idea spam emails had soundracks. 

So do you love hearing some moanin in the moonlight or not? Let me know below

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