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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

The Healer

John Lee Hooker

1989

Buy At Rough Trade
The Healer
Album Summary

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

Rating

3.19

Votes

11917

Genres

  • Blues

Reviews

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Sun Apr 11 2021
3

“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

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Mon Sep 27 2021
3

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.

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Sun Apr 04 2021
4

not even flaccid 80s production can kill the blues

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Thu Oct 14 2021
3

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.

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Tue Mar 08 2022
3

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.

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Mon May 10 2021
5

John Lee Hooker is excellent, I could bathe in his music all day long.

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Mon Mar 29 2021
3

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

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Tue Feb 28 2023
2

It would be really fun to listen to this stuff live. Unfortunately that wasn’t an option for me today

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Sun Sep 26 2021
5

Like that classical blues album. Very crystal mix, psychedelic vocals and perfect balanced instruments!

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Mon Jan 24 2022
5

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.

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Mon Jan 24 2022
5

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."

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Tue Feb 08 2022
5

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.

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Wed Jan 04 2023
5

One of my favourite albums of the late 80s

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Tue Apr 16 2024
5

A true blues album… LOVE IT !!! It is somewhat homogenous but when it hits the right note (pun) you don’t need to stretch into other areas. So much goodness, every song, fabulous collabs with awesome artists, doesn’t get much better !!!

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Wed Nov 24 2021
3

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

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Fri Feb 26 2021
2

Real boring ngl... good instrumentals and voice just maybe not today LOL

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Sat Mar 11 2023
2

Bluesy but this is boring background music to me

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Sun Jan 21 2024
2

Apart from the title track, this isn't very good. I don't understand why it's on the list. It was already old when it was new. Favorite song: the healer.

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Tue Apr 16 2024
2

So I’m a blues fan, and I like John Lee Hooker, though I am not well-versed in his entire catalog… I thought this one was fine, fairly well-done, I liked the guest artists on the different tracks for sure, as well as John’s playing – that said, there really isn’t anything on this album that really jumps out at you, or is really exceptional… I was really looking forward to this one, so perhaps my expectations were a bit too high… Underwhelmed is how I would put it... Would probably give it a 2.50, but just can’t get to a 3.00 – so a 2.00 for me…

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Fri Nov 24 2023
1

Should be removed from the list

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Fri Feb 26 2021
5

I own this one and had not listened to it in a while.

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Thu Apr 08 2021
5

J’adore cet album blues. 5* a reecouter calme et blues rock en maintenant wow et la fin parfaite

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Wed Mar 24 2021
5

The master with a cavalcade of extra guests, great stuff.

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Fri May 07 2021
5

Surprised to hear Santana in such an album. Good vibes

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Mon Sep 27 2021
5

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

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Wed Sep 29 2021
5

I learned of this when it was new and bought it then. Great collaborations!

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Sat Oct 23 2021
5

Bisschen poppig produziert aber großartig

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Fri Nov 26 2021
5

This album goes hard man is goated at the guitar

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Wed Dec 01 2021
5

This is a must come back to album. Absolutely fantastic.

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Fri Feb 04 2022
5

One of my all time favourite albums

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Wed Feb 09 2022
5

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.

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Wed Feb 16 2022
5

Very cool bluesy album, I loved Carlos Santana's guitars.

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Tue Mar 15 2022
5

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.

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Fri Apr 15 2022
5

This is gold. Not a bad one in the bunch. I listened through twice.

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Sun May 22 2022
5

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.

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Sat Aug 27 2022
5

I was never into blues, but hard to argue with The Godfather of blues!

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Wed Aug 31 2022
5

I really enjoyed it, an older, slightly mellower John Lee Hooker.

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Sat Sep 17 2022
5

Beautiful blues by the master himself. A must hear album

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Sat Sep 17 2022
5

Absolutely fantastic, I have listened to John Lee Hooker many times but not this album, loved it.

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Thu Dec 15 2022
5

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

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Fri Dec 30 2022
5

A nicely modern old blues album.

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Tue Jan 03 2023
5

Traditional blues w Carlos Santana, Los Lobos and Bonnie Raitt.

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Tue Jan 24 2023
5

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.

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Tue Feb 21 2023
5

Wasn’t sure when the first song came on. It gave me 1980s masculine island vacation vibes. Luckily, the rest was timeless and awesome.

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Tue Mar 21 2023
5

My favorite JLH album of all time.

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Tue Mar 28 2023
5

A bunch of great musicians, great album

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Fri Apr 07 2023
5

The first several tracks feature some incredible guests that meld perfectly with Hooker's style. It's a testament to his legend that when he goes it alone for the trio of songs at the end, it isn't a let-off. Best track: The Healer

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Fri Oct 06 2023
5

Many late period Duets albums are not essential. This one is different. Like Santana’s “Supernatural” or Ray Charles’ “Genius Loves Company” the guests serve primarily to highlight the main artist’s talent. This was a great group of songs. My favorites were the Bonnie Raitt and Santana duets. At the end though all the guest and instrumentation disappears so that all we have left are a blues man and his guitar. And it still sounds great.

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Fri Oct 13 2023
5

Very strong and accessible Blues album, with Standouts in every track.

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Mon Oct 30 2023
5

I really want to like John Lee Hooker as I've enjoyed small bits of his sound and music but I've always felt his albums dragged or stayed on one vibe too long. This was finally the one, I thought it was awesome, super glad

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Thu Dec 28 2023
5

Slick without losing its grit. Really great. Good features too.

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Thu Jan 04 2024
5

Whoa... I didn't expect the features. I'm 3 songs in and this is already feeling like a 5

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Tue Jan 16 2024
5

A blues album. The first song on the album was like blues that was dripping with 80's cheese, but then it thankfully switched to good dirty, sludgy blues. Lolol, Bad trip man. This album is awesome! Fuck I love blues rock! Favourite songs: Think Twice Before You Go, I'm In The Mood, Baby Lee, Cuttin' Out, Sally Mae, That's Alright Least favourite songs: The Healer 5/5

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Thu Jan 18 2024
5

Smooth southern blues rock. Love the Bonnie Raitt track. A nice mix of upbeat tunes.

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Fri Jan 19 2024
5

Nice classic blues. I love his style.

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Thu Feb 22 2024
5

Great blues album. All time great.

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Mon Apr 01 2024
5

Sweet! This is always gunna be awesome

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Fri Apr 26 2024
5

Love this album. Bought it as soon as it came out. A late career masterpiece.

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Tue Jun 04 2024
5

John Lee Hooker and Carlos Santana on the title track is a match made in heaven and it will heal your ills. A great album, with a fantastic array of guests.

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Mon May 10 2021
4

Liked this one - always enjoy some blues

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Sun Apr 18 2021
4

I realy liked this album. Blues is one of my many favorites.

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Wed Mar 24 2021
4

Like the collaboration and classic blues.

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Mon May 10 2021
4

I really got into this in the end. At first I wasn't sure but it took a second listen. Easy going and cool

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Wed Apr 14 2021
4

Strong blues, "long, hazy summer day" vibes.

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Thu Mar 18 2021
4

very good album in my opinion with great funky styles. simple yet effective and i couldnt really get bored of it at all

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Fri Mar 12 2021
4

Relaxte muziek! Ik kan er ook goed bij werken. En weer eens wat anders dan de Britse overkill hier de laatste tijd.

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Mon May 10 2021
4

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.

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Thu Jul 01 2021
4

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.

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Sat May 08 2021
4

This was a great listen. Didn't love the first track, but even that wasn't bad.

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Thu Jul 01 2021
4

Superb blues, and great use of guest artists

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Sat Feb 13 2021
4

Blues muy fino y temas con canned heat, santana etc

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Sat Mar 20 2021
4

Richtig gut. I'am in the mood ist mein favourite oder Think twice before you go?! Ich höre es einfach nochmal...

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Sat Mar 20 2021
4

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

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Sat Mar 20 2021
4

Hab ich komplett durchgehört. Blues vom feinsten.

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Wed Jun 02 2021
4

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.

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Tue Jun 29 2021
4

Good collaborations. Some good tracks on here, mostly toward the beginning of the album. It definitely drops off.

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Wed Jul 07 2021
4

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.

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Wed Mar 24 2021
4

Good stuff. Made for a nice compliment to an early morning l hot tub

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Wed Mar 24 2021
4

Who knew that the blues could uplift? Great album.

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Wed Jun 02 2021
4

Great blues album. Definitely deserves a relisten.

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Wed Jun 02 2021
4

I forgot how much I enjoyed listening to the blues.

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Fri Jul 30 2021
4

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

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