The blues genre has been graced with many greats over the years — from Robert Johnson to B.B. King to Stevie Ray Vaughan — and to honor them all would arguably take hundreds of volumes. This is the Blues: Volume One and Volume Two focus mainly on two artists — John Lee Hooker and original Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green — whose songs make up 18 of the 30 tracks on these volumes.
Volume One starts out in fine fashion with Jeff Beck tackling Hooker’s “Hobo Blues.” Earl Green takes the lead vocals on this funky workout while Beck coaxes seemingly impossible sounds from his axe. Even in his fifth decade of playing, Beck still amazes. Hooker’s daughter, Zakiya, delivers a spirited version of her father’s “I Want to Hug You,” which features the late Johnnie Johnson, legendary pianist for Chuck Berry among others on piano. Jack Bruce reunites with his ex-BBM band mate Gary Moore for a down and dirty version of Hooker’s “I’m in the Mood,” with Moore’s fiery lead playing conjuring up memories of that other famous guitarist Bruce worked with in the 1960s.
Green’s “Black Magic Woman” gets a fine reading from Larry McCray, blending elements of the Fleetwood Mac and Santana versions with a touch of funk for good measure while Vince Converse and Innes Sibun trade some tasty leads on a hard-rocking “Rattlesnake Shake.” Luther Grosvenor and Jess Roden deliver a laid-back “Crying Won’t Bring You Back,” with a feel not unlike the Rolling Stone’s cover of “Harlem Shuffle.”
Speaking of the Stones, ex-guitarist Mick Taylor shows why he is considered a master slide guitarist with his 10-minute cover of Willie Dixon’s “You Shook Me” while his former bandmate, Mick Jagger, offers his underrated harmonica skills to his brother Chris’ take of Lonnie Johnson’s “Racketeer Blues,” a song that would not be out of place on Beggars Banquet.