British boogie chillen pay tribute to the father figure - with his own ghost guesting.
It makes a little sense talking of the legend: old bluesman's legacy is immense, and the best way to remember him is playing his music - that's what this album is about. With an excepton of John Lee's daughter, Zakiya, elegantly spanking through "I Want To Hug You", and GREGGS EGGS presenting "The Business" - funnily done Bo Diddley-way! - which death got in the way of recording by Hooker, the bulk of "From Clarksdale To Heaven" comes from the best players of the British scene, all lined up to pay their dues to one of those who gave the sense to their own life.
The names alone may send shivers down the spine. When Jack Bruce and Gary Moore join forces one more time in power trio with Gary Husband on drums, the chill of getting to the very bone is guaranteed, in "I'm In The Mood" Jack's voice deepening to go along his saucy bass lines and Gary's eerie licks, for the guitarist to take the lead on sparse "Serve Me Right To Suffer" and shape it clear Chicago-style, like his hero Peter Green would do. Yet Greeny and his SPLINTER GROUP are here as well, slithering in the "Crawlin' King Snake" skin with a harp in his hoarse mouth and that same masterstroke he rules his den with. This minimalistic approach, very suitable for Hooker's pieces, is upgraded to jazzy jive Jeff Beck confesses nowadays, and if "Hobo Blues" only gets funked up, "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" emerges exuberant with the Kingdom Choir adding a gospel swing to a tune so eloquent. The bluesmen circling around in different combination, this is not a time for the circuit to fade away.
The spirits are high for TEN YEARS AFTER's Leo Lyons and Ric Lee, with Vince Converse taking predaciously to "Bad Like Jessie James" and "Ground Hog Blues" delivered by - who else? - Tony McPhee. The man who adopted the song's title for the band of his returns the favor here splicing his bareback acoustic strum to Dick Heckstall-Smith's saxes to introduce their buddy Clem Clempson into "I'm Leaving" hard-bopping stride. All of them quite usual suspects, as well as Mick Taylor and Max Middleton hitting the boogie nerve with "This Is Hip", less expected contributor is Gary Brooker, rarely a blues adept back in HARUM days, and his entourage of Andy Fairweather-Low and Henry Spinetti gloriously switching the rhythm from the "Baby Lee" organ-oiled shuffle to its piano driven companion, "Little Wheel". A real celebration - and a fitting tribute.
And if it's not enough, there's a previously unreleased recording of John Lee leading Booker T. and Randy California through the Hendrix's "Red House" that easily makes it altogether the Blues Album of the Year.