JOHN LEE HOOKER Travelin’ (1960), The Folklore Of John Lee Hooker (1961) & On Campus (1963)

Travelin’ (1960)
The Folklore Of John Lee Hooker (1961)
On Campus (1963)
Three Early 60s Vee-Jay Reissues

I was one of those that discovered the blues only after the Brits wised me up to what was already in my own backyard. Since career compilations served a worthy purpose to latecomers, I never developed a devotion to many of the official albums released before the mid-60s. Which is why it’s now fun to go back to see and hear the original releases first hand, to get a sense of what record buyers were experiencing when LPs like these first hit the shelves. All three of these John Lee Hooker reissues are electric band efforts steeped in the early rockin’ blues forms that attracted the Brits in the first place. On Campus (not a live album, as the name might suggest) was titled to attract the young white crowd newly awakening to the Greenwich folk scene. It’s ‘live’ in the studio and, like all of these LPs, fuses both the foot stompin’ & smoldering blues sides Hooker became famous for. The Folklore Of John Lee Hooker (an actual live album) boasts a bit more of John Lee’s patented mean & menace appeal, while Travelin’, as good as the performances are, suffers from forced fade-outs designed to limit the tracks to the two-and-a-half minute mark, just as Hook and company are starting to get warmed up. All three contain compositions that have been long-lost to most of us who’ve relied on later compilations of his best material. There’s more Hook in the archives, including Free Beer And Chicken (with Sugarcane Harris) and the 3CD set, Alternative Boogie – Early Studio Recordings 1948-52. Find various editions of Travelin’, Folklore and On Campus at Amazon.

No Shoes (2:30)
I Wanna Walk (2:13)
Canal Street Blues (2:50)
Run On (2:14)
I’m A Stranger (2:42)
Whiskey And Wimmen (2:51)
Solid Sender (2:35)
Sunny Land (2:32)
Goin’ To California (2:15)
I Can’t Believe (2:52)
I’ll Know Tonight (2:44)
Dusty Road (2:17)

Tupelo (3:24)
I’m Mad Again (2:43)
I’m Goin Upstairs (2:58)
Want Ad Blues (2:18)
Five Long Years (3:40)
I Like To See You Walk (2:56)
The Hobo (3:01)
Hard Headed Woman (2:33)
Wednesday Evening Blues (4:01)
Take Me As I Am (3:04)
My First Wife Left Me (3:37)
You’re Looking Good Tonight (2:58)

I’m Leaving (2:15)
Love Is A Burning Thing (2:45)
Birmingham Blues (2:59)
I Want To Shout (2:27)
Don’t Look Back (3:00)
I Want To Hug You (2:45)
Poor Me (3:16)
I Want To Ramble (2:30)
Half A Stranger (4:27)
My Grinding Mill (3:14)
Bottle Up And Go (2:27)
One Way Ticket (3:31)


  • Willard
    September 20, 2012 - 11:40 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • Duncan Walls
    September 20, 2012 - 12:58 | Permalink

    These were all available as cut-outs in F.W. Woolworth’s cheapo bins ( I’m talking $.44 per at 1971 $$ rates; I was making $2.14 an hour at the same mall in the ‘legit’ record store) and I was JUST really getting turned on to the blues as an fan and nascent guitar player, so I was ripe for picking these up at age 20 in 1971( and scads of other 1960s remainders that were making it to the bins back then if you knew where to look and what you were getting…many an item that got me mucho $$$ later on). All three of these made it into my collection and stayed there until my big dump in 1993. I actually got to open for John Lee at the Red Creek in the late 70s ( still have a tape somewhere of BOTH sets, his & Mine, which was pitiful in retrospect) where I transported him back and forth to the hotel down the road in my old Mail truck that only went 35 MPH tops. He was a gentleman and a monster on stage. I really like the Vee Jay years for John Lee (and Jimmy Reed and Lightnin Hopkins’ ‘Lightnin’ Strikes’, my first blues LP). Though they are as you say ‘truncated’, they provided a great intro to a blues style that was totally idiosyncratic to John Lee. In short , he taught me the ‘boogie’.

  • Willard
    September 20, 2012 - 13:18 | Permalink

    Cool story. I was a sucker for cut out bins, too, but didn’t have the money or the wherewithall to experiment much or buy in bulk. In my neck of the woods they had 3 for a dollar bins at Woolco, and i got my first Beach Boys (a best of, no less). Not to mention, John Lennon’s Two Virgins, with the brown wrapper. It actually says “Promo Records” on the sticker.

  • The Chairman
    September 20, 2012 - 13:54 | Permalink

    Guys, you got the stories! Love to follow .. Maybe one day, I’ll share how it was to be a bouncer for drunk B’52s and aggressive Police and awful Motors and early Dire Straits in West-Berlin (Germany) at the end of the 1970s. Good luck, and best as always: TC

  • Duncan Walls
    September 20, 2012 - 14:14 | Permalink

    @ The Chairman: I was a dj in a concert club 1975-1986 and had probably some of the same intimate glimpses you did. My boss most famously fired U2 on their first club tour for NOT stopping a sound check during the dinner hour when he made all the money he spent on concerts (from which he barely broke even). I used to ‘play ‘ records FOR THE MUSICIANS’ pleasure and the crowd’s education. My attitude was : If they’re happy hearing what I thought THEY might like to hear before and after sets, then they’d give a great concert. I was usually right. I had many hours spent talking to musicians between sets and after hours about music….memories I cherish and brief friendships that made my low paying second job a treat.

  • Duncan Walls
    September 20, 2012 - 15:03 | Permalink

    @ Willard: If I recall, ‘Promo Records’ was a firm specializing in selling cut-outs. I seem to remember getting one of their mimeograph catalogs during the 780s when I was a buyer for one of the stores I worked in…those cutout catalogs were always a mess and you had to order as soon as you got ’em, because all the good titles would disappear.

  • Willard
    September 20, 2012 - 16:07 | Permalink

    Interesting. I never thought about it at the time, but later it seemed odd to me. I think after reading that Allen Klein got busted of selling Let It Be promos out the back door.

  • Ernie45
    September 20, 2012 - 19:51 | Permalink

    Thanks Willard. I stand corrected. The links worked when I tried the second time.

  • Mark from Rochester
    September 21, 2012 - 06:20 | Permalink

    Duncan Walls is a legend here in Rochester NY. I bought Jack Kerouac’s LP where Kerouac recites his works with Steve Allen playing piano. Then I sold him my Beatles’ 45 sleeves. I made a mistake. Those are worth 100s.

  • pete
    September 21, 2012 - 12:13 | Permalink

    Wow, thanks! I’m sure I have a lot of these cuts on the huge Vee-Jay compilation, but it’s great to have the original configuration. Incidentally, I’m speaking as a Brit who thinks he heard John Lee (and Bo Diddley) before he heard the Animals but is really not sure, it’s all a bit of blur.

    The thought of Hooker “On Campus” in 1963 is, um, disturbing. One feels that campus provides a lot of bovine excrement (even from the well-meaning organizers of the gig) up with which he would not put. On the other hand, campus would have had a substantial assortment of coeds, so there’s that; just don’t tell Maudie.

  • September 21, 2012 - 12:38 | Permalink

    I had all these tidbits on vinyl which I found at – yes! – the Woolworth cut-out bins! If I ever had to apply the adjective “real” to music, it would be for this stuff. For me, John Lee takes the listener deeper into the genuine thread of blues music than anyone else I’ve heard.

  • Duncan Walls
    September 22, 2012 - 07:57 | Permalink

    Having experienced John Lee up close at at least two gigs in the 70s I can tell you the man was a dapper dresser and had plenty of time for young pretties that would be drawn to the man. Shameless, he was, and COOL. Quiet and soft when speaking off-stage. Just the kind of demeanor that would attract the young moths to the flame. They didn’t have ANY idea what they were messing with…

    • Willard
      September 22, 2012 - 10:42 | Permalink

      I caught him once in a small club and ended up chatting with him before the show in a room the size of a broom closet. As you say, dapper and quiet. And, he chuckled a lot, too.

    • Forked Tongue
      September 23, 2012 - 21:53 | Permalink

      Keith Richards once said something like, everybody thinks he got a lot of chicks. Not so much. Now, John Lee Hooker–HE got a lot of chicks.

      • Willard
        September 23, 2012 - 22:11 | Permalink

        Last time I heard Richards on the subject of girls (just recently), he said he found it much easier to just jack off.

  • Duncan Walls
    September 22, 2012 - 08:00 | Permalink

    @ Mark from Rochester: I don’t know why you would say that but the check is in the mail. I consider myself more INfamous. Having lived that last 11 years 60 miles away in the hills to the south, I may have no real idea anymore if there’s a legend or not. Gee. How do you live up to this?

  • TC
    May 23, 2014 - 12:45 | Permalink

    Thank you for these (and all of the other stuff!). I remain forever in your debt. I hope all’s good with you.

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