John Lee Hooker once said that the "best time, ever, for the blues, was in England in the 60s", and the late, great Mississippi bluesman was a major influence on the Animals, the Rolling Stones, Cream and Van Morrison. This glorious 84-track, four-CD set chronicles Hooker's remarkable history, starting out with his solo work back in the late 1940s, and the distinctive stomping blues boogie of his first major hit Boogie Chillen, and then the intimate, pained, almost conversational songs that show his singing was as startling as his guitar work: Tupelo Blues, for instance. His best known songs - Boom Boom, I Cover the Waterfront - are of course included, and the final CD provides a rousing reminder that Hooker's sometimes difficult career ended in commercial triumph, with collaborations with Robert Cray, Van Morrison and Eric Clapton. If you know a blues fan, this is their ideal Christmas present.
Robin Denselow is a journalist and broadcaster who specialises in music and politics. He is the author of When The Music's Over, a history of political pop