The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions

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The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions
Studio album by Howlin' Wolf
Released August 1971 (1971-08)[1]
Recorded May 2–7, 1970 Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
Genre Chicago blues
Length 39:43
Label Chess/Rolling Stones
Producer Norman Dayron[1]
Howlin' Wolf chronology
Message to the Young
(1971)
The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions
(1971)
Live and Cookin' at Alice's Revisited
(1972)

The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions is an album by blues musician Howlin' Wolf, released in the summer of 1971 on Chess Records, catalogue CH 60008 (Rolling Stones Records in Britain). It was one of the first of the super session blues albums, setting a blues master among famous musicians from the second generation of rock and roll, in this case Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wyman. It peaked at #79 on the Billboard 200.

History[edit]

Backstage at the Fillmore Auditorium, after a concert by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Electric Flag, and Cream, Chess Records staff producer Norman Dayron spotted the guitar players of the latter two bands, Michael Bloomfield and Eric Clapton, talking and joking around. Dayron approached Clapton and, on impulse, asked "how would you like to do an album with Howlin' Wolf?"[2] After confirming that the offer was legitimate, Clapton agreed, and Dayron set up sessions in London through the Chess organization to coordinate with Clapton's schedule.

Clapton secured the participation of the Rolling Stones rhythm section, pianist Ian Stewart, bassist Bill Wyman, and drummer Charlie Watts, while Dayron assembled further musicians, including 19-year-old harmonica prodigy Jeffrey Carp, who died shortly after these recordings.[3] Initially, Marshall Chess did not want to pay the expense for flights and accommodations to send Wolf's long-serving guitarist Hubert Sumlin to England, but an ultimatum by Clapton mandated his presence. Sessions took place between May 2 and May 7, 1970, at Olympic Studios.[4]

For the first day of May 2, Watts and Wyman were unavailable, and a call went out for immediate replacements. Many showed up, but only recordings featuring Klaus Voormann and Ringo Starr were released from that day.[5] In the initial album credits, Starr is listed as "Ritchie,"[6] as Dayron was under the impression that, being a Beatle, his name could not be used directly.[7]

Further overdubbing took place at the Chess studios in Chicago, with Chess regulars Lafayette Leake on piano and Phil Upchurch on bass, and horn players Jordan Sandke, Dennis Lansing, and Joe Miller of the 43rd Street Snipers, Carp's band.[8] Ex-Blind Faith keyboardist Steve Winwood, on tour in the United States, contributed to the overdubbing sessions as well. Although he actually plays on only five tracks for the original album, his name is featured on the cover below the Wolf's, along with Clapton, Wyman, and Watts.

On March 4, 2003, the current owner of the Chess catalogue Universal Music Group released a two-disc Deluxe Edition of the London Sessions. Included as bonus tracks on the first disc were three performances initially released on Chess CH 60026 in February 1974, London Revisited. The second disc featured outtakes and different mixes.

Track and personnel listing[edit]

All songs written by Chester Burnett, except as indicated.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Rockin' Daddy" – 3:43 (recorded May 4, 1970)
  2. "I Ain't Superstitious" (Willie Dixon) – 3:34 (recorded May 2, 1970)
  3. "Sittin' On Top Of The World" – 3:51[10] (recorded May 6, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Jeffrey Carp – harmonica; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Lafayette Leake – piano; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.
  4. "Worried About My Baby" – 2:55 (recorded May 7, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal, harmonica; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Leake – piano; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.
  5. "What A Woman!" (James Oden) – 3:02 (recorded May 7, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Carp – harmonica; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Winwood – organ; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.
  6. "Poor Boy" – 3:04 (recorded May 4, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Carp – harmonica; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Winwood – piano; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.

Side two[edit]

  1. "Built For Comfort" (Dixon) – 2:08 (recorded May 7, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Stewart – piano; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums; Sandke – trumpet; Lansing, Miller – saxophones
  2. "Who's Been Talking?" – 3:02 (recorded May 7, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal, harmonica; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; John Simon – piano; Winwood – organ; Wyman – bass, shaker; Watts – drums, conga, percussion.
  3. "The Red Rooster (Rehearsal)" – 1:58 (recorded May 7, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; guitar; other personnel as below
  4. "The Red Rooster" (Willie Dixon) – 3:47 (recorded May 7, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Leake – piano; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.
  5. "Do The Do" (Willie Dixon) – 2:18 (recorded May 6, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Stewart – piano; Wyman – bass, cowbell; Watts – drums.
  6. "Highway 49" (Joe Lee Williams) – 2:45 (recorded May 6, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Carp – harmonica; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Winwood – piano; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.
  7. "Wang-Dang-Doodle" (Willie Dixon) – 3:27 (recorded May 4, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Carp – harmonica; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Stewart – piano; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.

2003 Deluxe Edition bonus tracks[edit]

  1. "Goin' Down Slow" (James Oden) – 5:52 (recorded May 2, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Carp – harmonica; Clapton – lead guitar; Voormann – bass; Starr – drums.[11]
  2. "Killing Floor" – 5:18 (recorded May 7, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal, electric guitar; Clapton – electric guitar; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.
  3. "I Want To Have A Word With You" - 4:07 (recorded May 2, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Voormann – bass; Starr – drums.

2003 Deluxe Edition disc two[edit]

  1. "Worried About My Baby" (rehearsal take) – 4:31 (recorded May 7, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal, harmonica; Clapton – lead guitar; Wyman – bass.
  2. "The Red Rooster" (alternate mix) – 4:02 (recorded May 7, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Leake – piano; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.
  3. "What A Woman" (alternate take) – 5:10 (recorded May 7, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Carp – harmonica; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Stewart – piano; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.
  4. "Who's Been Talking" (alternate take with false start and dialogue) – 5:51 (recorded May 7, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal, harmonica; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Stewart – piano; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.
  5. "Worried About My Baby" (alternate take) – 3:43 (recorded May 7, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal, harmonica; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Stewart – piano; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.
  6. "I Ain't Superstitious" (alternate take) – 4:10 (recorded May 2, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Carp – harmonica; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Stewart – piano; Voormann – bass; Starr – drums.
  7. "Highway 49" (alternate take) – 3:39 (recorded May 6, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Stewart – piano; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.
  8. "Do The Do" (extended alternate take) – 5:44 (recorded May 6, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Stewart – piano; Wyman – bass, cowbell; Watts – drums.
  9. "Poor Boy" (alternate lyrics mix) – 4:27 (recorded May 4, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Carp – harmonica; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Winwood – piano; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.
  10. "I Ain't Superstitious" (alternate mix) – 3:53 (recorded May 2, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Winwood – piano; Voorman – bass; Starr – drums; Sandke – trumpet; Lansing, Miller – saxophones; Wyman – cowbell.
  11. "What A Woman" (alternate mix with organ overdub) – 3:10 (recorded May 7, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Carp – harmonica; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Stewart – piano; Winwood – organ; Wyman – bass; Watts – drums.[12]
  12. "Rockin' Daddy" (alternate mix) – 3:58 (recorded May 4, 1970)
    • Wolf – vocal; Sumlin – rhythm guitar; Clapton – lead guitar; Stewart – piano; Upchurch – bass; Watts – drums.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1971) Peak
position
US Billboard 200[13] 79
US Billboard R&B Albums[13] 28
Chart (2003) Peak
position
US Billboard Blues Albums[14] 6

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Schumacher, Michael (1995). "Chapter 6: Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad? (1969–70)". Crossroads: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton (1st ed.). New York City, New York: Hyperion. pp. 137–141. ISBN 0-7868-6074-X. 
  2. ^ The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions, Deluxe Edition, MCA 088 112 985-2, 2002. Liner Notes, p. 4. According to the notes, Dayron stated that the plan "was hatched in '69 or '70." His dates and concerts must be confused; Bill Graham moved the Fillmore from its original location to become the Fillmore West in 1968, the same year Cream played its farewell concerts and Bloomfield quit Electric Flag, having left the Butterfield Band previously. It is possible that Dayron saw Clapton backstage at one of the recorded Al Kooper/Bloomfield shows at the Fillmore West in September 1968, or saw Bloomfield backstage at a Blind Faith concert in Oakland in August 1969, or even in Chicago the previous month, but in 1969 or 1970 he could not have seen either Cream or Electric Flag as neither group existed at that time.
  3. ^ Deluxe Ed., liners, pp. 5–6.
  4. ^ Deluxe Ed., liners, pp. 22–24.
  5. ^ Deluxe Ed., liners, pp. 8–9.
  6. ^ Castleman, Harry; Podrazik, Walter J. (1977). "1971 – My Sweet Lord, He's So Fine". All Together Now – The First Complete Beatles Discography 1961–1975 (Second ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 103. ISBN 0-345-25680-8. 
  7. ^ Deluxe Ed., liners, p. 9.
  8. ^ Deluxe Ed., liners, p. 18.
  9. ^ Wyman and Watts are the only personnel listed with credits for additional percussion, although given their lack of presence for the May 2 sessions and assuming Wyman was not overdubbed later, the cowbell could have been played by one of the many other musicians at the sessions, possibly Carp. Unless of course it was Christopher Walken.
  10. ^ Song actually written by the Mississippi Sheiks, recorded Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1930. Gray, Michael, The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. London, Continuum Publishing, pp. 460–462.
  11. ^ If Sumlin indeed plays on this track, he is mixed so low as to be inaudible.
  12. ^ This assumes a Winwood overdub on a take with Stewart on piano, Stewart subsequently mixed out of the released version.
  13. ^ a b "Howlin' Wolf - Billboard Albums". Allmusic. United States: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 5, 2010. 
  14. ^ "The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions (Deluxe Edition)". Billboard. Retrieved December 5, 2010.