Records That Made History

Howlin’ Wolf – The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions

todayNovember 11, 2023 16

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The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions is an album by Howlin’ Wolf released in 1971 by Chess Records in the US and Rolling Stones Records in the UK. It was one of the first super session blues albums, defining a great blues musician among famous musicians of the second generation of rock and roll, in this case Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman. The album peaked at #79 on the Billboard 200.

Backstage at the Fillmore Auditorium, after a concert by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Electric Flag and Cream, Chess Records producer Norman Dayron saw the latter two bands’ guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Eric Clapton talking and joking. Dayron approached Clapton and asked him on the spur of the moment “would you like to do an album with Howlin’ Wolf?”. After Clapton confirmed that this particular proposal was legal under his contract, he agreed, and so Dayron organized all the meetings in London through Chess, who also had the responsibility of coordinating them around Clapton’s schedule.

Clapton also secured the participation of the entire Rolling Stones rhythm section, namely pianist Ian Stewart, bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts, while Dayron added other musicians, including the talented 19-year-old harmonica player Jeffrey Carp, who had died shortly after the end of the specific recordings. Initially, Marshall Chess, son of Chess Records co-founder Leonard Chess, did not want to pay for long-time Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin’s travel and lodging expenses to England, but an ultimatum from Clapton resulted in his presence there. of. The meetings took place between May 2 and 7, 1970, at Olympic Studios.

On the first day, May 2, Watts and Wyman were unavailable and the process began to replace them immediately. Many appeared, but from that day on only the recordings with Klaus Voormann on bass and Ringo Starr on drums made it onto the album. In the album liner notes, Starr is referred to as “Richie”, as Dayron felt that, as a member of the Beatles, his name could not be used directly.

Further processing of the tracks took place at Chess’s Chicago studios with musicians Lafayette Leake on piano, Phil Upchurch on bass and Jordan Sandke, Dennis Lansing and Joe Miller on woodwinds, and 43rd Street Snipers harmonica player Jeffrey Karp. Former Blind Faith keyboardist Steve Winwood was also involved in the entire recording process, as he was on tour in the United States. Although he only plays five tracks on the original album, his name appears on the cover below those of Wolf, Clapton, Wyman and Watts.

On March 4, 2003, Universal Music Group, the current owner of the Chess Records catalog, released a two-CD Deluxe Edition, including bonus tracks and alternate recordings.

Through this historic album I will choose Willie Dixon’s track “Wang-Dang-Doodle”, from the recording of May 4, 1970.


Disc 1: The Original Album – The Original Mix

1-1 Rockin’ Dadd 3:42
1-2 I Ain’t Superstitious 3:29
1-3 Sittin’ On Top Of The World 3:50
1-4 Worried About My Baby 2:54
1-5 What A Woman! 3:00
1-6 Poor Boy 3:04
1-7 Built For Comfort 2:08
1-8 Who’s Been Talking? 3:02
1-9 The Red Rooster (False Start And Dialog) 1:58
1-10 The Red Rooster 3:47
1-11 Do The Do 2:18
1-12 Highway 49 2:46
1-13 Wang Dang Doodle 4:28

Bonus Tracks From London Revisited (Newly Remixed From The Session Multi-Tracks)

1-14 Goin’ Down Slow 5:52
1-15 Killing Floor 5:18
1-16 I Want To Have A Word With You 4:07

Disc 2: Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks

2-1 Worried About My Baby (Rehearsal Take) 4:31
2-2 The Red Rooster (Alternate Mix With Alternate Piano) 4:02
2-3 What A Woman (A/K/A Commit A Crime) (Alternate Take) 5:10
2-4 Who’s Been Talking (Alternate Take With False Start & Dialog) 5:51
2-5 Worried About My Baby (Alternate Take) 3:43
2-6 I Ain’t Superstitious (Alternate Take) 4:10
2-7 Highway 49 (Alternate Take) 3:39
2-8 Do The Do (Extended Alternate Take) 5:44
2-9 Poor Boy (Alternate Lyrics/Mix) 4:27
2-10 I Ain’t Superstitious (Alternate Mix) 3:53
2-11 What A Woman (A/K/A Commit A Crime) (Alternate Mix With Organ Overdub) 3:10
2-12 Rockin’ Daddy (Alternate Mix) 3:58

Written by: Dimitris Sigalos

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