John Lee Hooker Face To Face

John Lee Hooker’s endless boogie was burned out in his 83rd year, yet he went out with a bang — and an unfinished album. This posthumous tribute of sorts was lovingly finished under the watchful direction of his daughter, Zakiya, and fans of the last few Hooker guest-heavy love fests will also marvel at the final work of this tireless octogenarian. The support cast is staggering (Elvin Bishop, Johnny Winter, Van Morrison, Warren Haynes, Roy Rodgers, Dickey Betts, George Thorogood) as Hooker and company revisit classics, new and old and, although it’s difficult to determine what was recorded when, John Lee sounds as he always has — and probably still does, wherever he’s gotten to. The consummate timekeeper, Hooker’s ability to inspire those who play alongside him continues here, with Van the Man’s duet on "Dimples” a clear demonstration of the master’s ability to intimidate even a man of Van’s stature. The addition of Warren Haynes’s aggressive firepower adds a razor’s edge to Hooker’s raggedy growl on "Up And Down” and "Big Road” but it is Johnny Winter’s torrid, Texan touch on "Face To Face” that renders up the album’s best track. Regardless of how this might have been pieced together, it serves as a worthy reminder of what we’ve lost in the passing of a true blues giant. (Eagle)