The Healer is a blues album by John Lee Hooker, released in 1989 by Chameleon Music Group Chameleon. The album features collaborations with Bonnie Raitt, Charlie Musselwhite, Los Lobos and Carlos Santana, among others.Wikipedia
“The Healer” by John Lee Hooker (1989) This album is an okay introduction to the blues, performed by one of the blues legends in American music. As an album, however, it is tainted by its collaborative nature, undoubtedly driven by commercial concerns. It should have been described as “by John Lee Hooker and Friends”. Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Canned Heat, Los Lobos, and George Thorogood all made musical contributions. Unfortunately, these contributions had an adulterating effect on the pure blues artistry of John Lee Hooker. If the listener can focus on his performance instead of the backing music and collaborators, he/she can get a sense of what made John Lee Hooker great—and greatly influential. Now, the happy result of this sad collaborative feature is that the production provided recognition (and income) for Mr. Hooker in his waning years. He was 73 years old when the album was released. The title track’s lyrics help explain why listening to the blues is an uplifting experience. To more fully understand this, it helps to have lived south of, say, Mayflower, Arkansas and then moved to Detroit, Michigan. Some readers of these notes will understand the reference. Hooker’s guitar and vocals are nearly superlative. Pure Hooker can be heard on the last three tracks. Among these, “Rocking Chair” stands out. On “Rocking Chair”, one gets a good feel for how classic blues performers can (intentionally) drop tempo altogether, uniting guitar and voice in strict service to the ‘soul’ of the blues. This ambience had origins in Southern Protestant preaching, and should be approached from that perspective. Guitar on “My Dream” is distractingly out of tune. On “No Substitute”, you can feel the struggle against the maintenance of tempo between vocal and guitar on the one hand, and whoever is tapping rhythm (maybe Hooker himself?) on the other. For my money (and listening pleasure) just let the damn tempo go. This album is more accessible than classic blues, but for the real thing, try “House of the Blues” by John Lee Hooker (1967). 3/5
not even flaccid 80s production can kill the blues
John Lee Hooker is excellent, I could bathe in his music all day long.
The Healer - John Lee Hooker 1. The Healer - 4/5 2. I’m In The Mood - 3/5 3. Baby Lee - 2/5 4. Cuttin’ Out - 2/5 5. Think Twice Before You Go - 3/5 6. Sally Mae - 3/5 7. That’s Alright - 3/5 8. Rockin’ Chair - 3/5 9. My Dream - 4/5 10. No Substitute - 4/5 Overall: 3.1/5 or 62% Fave Songs: The Healer
Like that classical blues album. Very crystal mix, psychedelic vocals and perfect balanced instruments!
Legend. John Lee Hooker is a legend. And for good reason. Though the record is full of guest artists who all put their fingerprints on the songs, John Lee pulls everything back to a cohesive whole, grounding every track in his particular flavor of electric blues. "The Healer" is a canvas across which John Lee Hooker and his guests provide contrast to each other in a way that allows everyone to shine. It's an incredibly balanced record and an absolute pleasure to listen to.
One of my favourite albums of the late 80s
I'm not super crazy about albums with a million collaborations like this. Was worried this would be like those Santana records in the late 90's (You know, the one with "Smooth" and the Matchbox 20 guy) where every track is basically just in the style of the collaborator and the main artist is just sort of a show-piece in the background. First track (ironically with Santana) is definitely kind of like this but as it went on it (largely) escaped that trap. Still, it feels like this is probably not his best work - more of his introduction to mainstream audiences. It's fairly stripped down, straight ahead blues. Enjoyable but not that inspiring. I suspect his back catalog is much stronger than this record. Still, glad he got paid by this record - sounds like it let him live out the rest of his life without money worries. It's fine but not great, 3 stars.
I really liked In the mood, neat that Bonnie Raitt was on it. This Isn't my first exposure to John Lee Hooker. He's so fucking good, this isn't my favorite work of his but it is good, it's a bit overproduced it feels like at times. But even that can't kill the Blues baby.
Hooker is a legendary blues artist, without a doubt. I'm a huge fan of his album with Canned Heat, Hooker 'n Heat. I was excited to here some more traditional blues styling from him, but this album isn't quite that. It's something of a mix of styles, but there's still a throughline of Hooker's blues. The story behind this is more interesting than the music itself for me: released when Hooker was 73, and it got him his first Grammy and achieved a level of success that permitted John Lee Hooker to live out the end of his life in comfort." That's a beautiful thing. I enjoyed quite a few tracks on here, but it didn't wow me as a whole. Still, an enjoyable listen. I hope we get more from him on the list. Favorite tracks: Sally Mae, Rockin' Chair, The Healer. Album art: A bit spooky, like someone's reaching out from beyond the grave. I'll trust that it's a healer, but I'm keeping my distance. 3.5/5
Given the rather embarrassing cover and the vintage of 1989, I lessened my expectations of this album, even though I have loved plenty of John Lee Hooker joints. And the grimness of the 80s production on the opening track made my gums recede, sounding exactly like a shifty, leisure-suited band in an especially dingy bar playing Midnight at the Oasis. So why did John Lee Hooker lose his creative bearings on this album? Well, the first seven tracks are all collaborative, but they lack any sense of creative tension or exploration, an absence spotlit by the mouldy production. Maybe it's reverence towards John, causing the performances to seem mannerist and artificial. However, the last three tracks are solo efforts, and we finally hear the old Hooker magic. Seriously, the last three tracks rescue the album from embarrassment and belatedly demonstrate John Lee Hooker's majesty as an artist. So, the mean of the album is very much average, but the best tracks are touched by the hand of God and nobody else.
Real boring ngl... good instrumentals and voice just maybe not today LOL
I own this one and had not listened to it in a while.
J’adore cet album blues. 5* a reecouter calme et blues rock en maintenant wow et la fin parfaite
Surprised to hear Santana in such an album. Good vibes
Vielschichtig und tolles Blues Werk, mal sexy, mal spröde, mal nachdenklich und es tönt manchmal gar bluesfern, und ist dann doch seiner am nahesten, wo Kangkleid sanft changierend verläuft. 4.5
I learned of this when it was new and bought it then. Great collaborations!
Bisschen poppig produziert aber großartig
This album goes hard man is goated at the guitar
This is a must come back to album. Absolutely fantastic.
I’m not blues expert but I really enjoyed listening to this album. “The Healer” with that unmistakable Carlos Santana rhythm and guitar over John Lee Hooker’s vocals is a great opener to the album. Bonnie Raitt’s style is very evident even before she sings on “In The Mood.” This collaboration is also fantastic. This pattern repeats on the next five tracks with a different, incredibly talented guest artist imbuing John Lee Hooker’s seasoned blues performances with some of their musical styles. I loved all of the variety. Having little experience with John Lee Hooker, I appreciated having the opportunity to hear him on his own on the last three tracks. They are quite distinct but all share Hooker’s talented, emotional delivery. I don’t know that I’ve heard a more powerful ending to an album than “No Substitute.” The music drops away as Hooker delivers the last line on the album, ‘Just wasn’t there’. Amazing.
I first became an admirer of John Lee Hooker from his memorable cameo in a movie full of memorable cameos, The Blues Brothers. It makes me so glad to know that he finally received the recognition he deserved from this album. I love the collaborations and interactions between him and the many other amazing musicians on this album. I could listen to this over and over and over. It's hard to pick a favorite song as I love listening to this as a whole. "The blues healed me."
One of my all time favourite albums
Like many other people my age, I first heard of John Lee Hooker by seeing him in the Blues Brothers. So I was surprised when he released this back in 1989. Admittedly I didn't fully appreciate this album until I saw Henry Rollins talked about John Lee Hooker in an interview a few years that I really gave this a proper listen. Blues isn't my go to genre and I find the production a bit slick for my tastes in places. This is a great album, for one to have a performer in their 70s turning out such grooves is amazing and there is a real craft on display here.
Very cool bluesy album, I loved Carlos Santana's guitars.
Hard not to like this but the whole enterprise raises questions. Certainly it mostly avoids seeming a gimmick (of which there was a high likelihood). The sui generis voice with good cameos (Los Lobos and B. Raitt the best; Santana axe work just this side of obnoxious and just short of overwhelming the track). The whole thing works because JLH is front and center on every track. And last few tracks (JLH alone) may be the strongest overall. I want to give it a 5, but feel compromised. Is this really just JLH-lite? Why/how is this the only Hooker in the book? Would a 5 rating seem to degrade the earlier work? One feels certain there are superior records in the archives though blues scholars would be best positioned to say. Does it raise the issue of cultural appropriation (see also Graceland)? It feels pretty authentic (save for Santana opener). Is this an homage/honoring or could it be read as more established artists (including both white and people of color) feeling like he needed a rescuing or drafting off his lead (see also the entire history of rock/pop music)? Overall, I get an honoring vibe, but these are complex questions hovering around what really is an excellent listen. Plus, it’s inspiring me to go deeper into the back catalog … more of which should be “known” … let’s go 5.
This is gold. Not a bad one in the bunch. I listened through twice.
Enjoyed this very much
Doesn’t get more real than this. Hooker is himself on each song. Collaborations add colour, but his soul is in each song. Heartfelt, personal, beautiful.
nice guitar player
loved it, thanks!
I was never into blues, but hard to argue with The Godfather of blues!
I really enjoyed it, an older, slightly mellower John Lee Hooker.
Beautiful blues by the master himself. A must hear album
Absolutely fantastic, I have listened to John Lee Hooker many times but not this album, loved it.
I've never really went in on blues music specifically, but I absolutely loved this album, almost every song from it in fact. The collaborations are quite nice as well. I think I'll do a bit of a deep dive into other albums by John Lee Hooker now Saved tracks: The Healer, I'm In The Mood, Baby Lee
A nicely modern old blues album.
Traditional blues w Carlos Santana, Los Lobos and Bonnie Raitt.
I wasn't a fan of blues music, but I need to say that this record is really good. Song,,My Dream” is my favorite.
Wasn’t sure when the first song came on. It gave me 1980s masculine island vacation vibes. Luckily, the rest was timeless and awesome.
My favorite JLH album of all time.
A bunch of great musicians, great album
Liked this one - always enjoy some blues
I realy liked this album. Blues is one of my many favorites.
Like the collaboration and classic blues.
I think I just like blues
I really got into this in the end. At first I wasn't sure but it took a second listen. Easy going and cool
Strong blues, "long, hazy summer day" vibes.
good blues and soul
very good album in my opinion with great funky styles. simple yet effective and i couldnt really get bored of it at all
Relaxte muziek! Ik kan er ook goed bij werken. En weer eens wat anders dan de Britse overkill hier de laatste tijd.
Very nice, I could listen to this is most settings, in fact I’m trying to think of a setting where this wouldn’t fit... and I can’t really think of one.
As of this day, Wednesday 30th June 2021, I Nigel Peter Dandelion Spackman, have only murdered 7 hookers. If you read anything different, it's libellous.
This was a great listen. Didn't love the first track, but even that wasn't bad.
Superb blues, and great use of guest artists
Blues muy fino y temas con canned heat, santana etc
Richtig gut. I'am in the mood ist mein favourite oder Think twice before you go?! Ich höre es einfach nochmal...
Titelsong the healer ist gleich ein Kracher. Santana auch eh super. Toller sound, gefühlvoll und trotzdem mit positivem vibe. Coverbild und titel haben mich auch angesprochen. 4 Sterne deluxe
Hab ich komplett durchgehört. Blues vom feinsten.
Pretty good, I enjoyed it. Both very good instrumentation (a shame it can't all be with Santana though!) and a very good voice with just a little bit of grit.
Good collaborations. Some good tracks on here, mostly toward the beginning of the album. It definitely drops off.
Nice and smooth
Authentic Blues that is somehow stripped away while still having larger supporting instrumentation. Hooker asserts himself as a mainstay within the genre, and delivers an album worthy of his legacy.
Good stuff. Made for a nice compliment to an early morning l hot tub
Who knew that the blues could uplift? Great album.
Great blues album. Definitely deserves a relisten.
I forgot how much I enjoyed listening to the blues.
I'm not generally much for blues albums, but this one was really interesting. It incorporated a lot of elements of other musical styles into it. It's also nice to hear a blues album with good production, since so many albums from earlier eras suffer from a lack of production value 4/5
Great blues. Cool features. Like Santana and Bonnie raitt
Clima bom com o blues com as participações especiais
Great performances all around.
Sweet! John Lee Hooker on his own is always a great listen; throw in guest stars like Bonnie Raitt, George Thorogood, Robert Cray, etc....soooo good. Really nice album.
Great blues album!
Sinfully soulful. Will be checking this guy out more. Effortlessly cool and groovy
I really enjoyed this album. I had not really been all that familiar with John Lee hooker in the past.
this one kicked off a huge boost in interest in the venerable bluesman - but it did so by remaining true to what made him special, honouring his roots, his great voice, and his heart. Many guests, great vibe throughout.
Great blues and amazing collaborations.
Old friend from the Oakland days
Meget lækkert, især at de havde Santana med!
I'm in the Mood is just amazing & love this album!
It's an album with lots of collaborations with other artists. Some, like Los Lobos, work a lot better than others, like Santana. After the terrible first song of the album is slowly turns into a real bluesy John Lee Hooker album. 3,5 stars
Some great blues from JLH and some of 1989's more mainstream artists. Loved The Healer with Carlos Santana, I'm in the Mood with Bonnie Raitt, Baby Lee with Robert Cray, Cuttin' Out with Canned Heat, and Think Twice Before You Go with Los Lobos. I found the second half of the album much less fun. (I guess I like my blues to be fun.) I'd love to hear more from John Lee Hooker though.
I went to the Church of Blues today, and it was healing.
Okay, now this is my shit right here. What an absolute vibe. Pure blues, pure vibes, pure 4/5, close to a 5, just needed to be longer.
What a bop. Had no expectations and loved this start to finish. Lyrically it's not particularly inspired but musically fantastic with a high energy start that melds into a more mellow mood by the end. It's a 4.5, if the system would allow!
It was really good but probably my least favorite so far.
Leuk blues album