Of the many productions Bob Thiele oversaw for Impulse, one of the finest has to be a 1965 recording (released a year later) with John Lee Hooker backed by bassist Milt Hinton, drummer Panama Francis, guitarist Barry Galbraith, and engineered by Bob Arnold. Oh, and that's William Wells playing trombone on the cover of "Money." It's really interesting to hear the blues legend paired with jazz session guys — especially because they all just stay locked in on his hypnotic groove.
Impulse always employed state of the art technology and cutting edge design. It was primarily known as a jazz label, of course, but they did release albums by Mel Brown, BB King, Bobby Bland, and others. They briefly had a folk sub-label, which is what the Hooker record was released on. He was signed to Impulse's parent label ABC, and this was his only Impulse release.
Though often disparaged by blues purists, It Serve You Right to Suffer is clearly one of Hooker's best efforts from the mid '60s. Have a listen to the entire thing via this YouTube link. It just might save your Thursday, as it just did mine. Hooker made so many solid records, well into the 1970s, that it can be awful hard to keep track of them.
Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal has written about music since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance at age sixteen with money saved from mowing lawns in Florida. He's since written for Spin, Pitchfork, the Village VOICE and Artforum. He's been a museum guard, a financial reporter, a bicycle...