Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Howlin Wolf In Concert 1970|
Actor: Howlin Wolf
Director: Howlin' Wolf
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
Howlin' Wolf was a musical giant in every way. He stood 6' 3", wore size 16 shoes, had skin so dark it shined like silver, and poured out his darkest sorrows in a voice that sounded like a rampaging chainsaw. Half a centur... more »
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The First Entire Howlin Wolf Concert Available.
Perry Celestino | Tahmoor, NSW Australia | 09/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Howlin' Wolf was a literal giant of the Blues. However, unlike his contemporary, Muddy Waters, very little video material has ever been released on Wolf. There has been the documentary "The Howlin Wolf Story", with no concert footage, "The Devil Got My Woman" which had Wolf set up like he was at a Juke behind the scenes at the Newport Jazz Festival and the American Folk Blues Festivals, the best being this year's release of Wolf in the UK Tours. However, no complete concert has ever been released. We all waited months for this one.
This DVD was released by Vestapol, which by the way, is an Open D tuning in Blues guitar. This company with Rounder and Stefan Grossman have produced a lot of marvelous products in Blues music over the years including rare material on Freddie King, Albert Collins, Lightning Hopkins, John Lee Hooker and so on. The DVD consists of a filmed concert by a man called Topper Carew and a color bonus track "Sitting On Top Of the World". The program runs for about an hour and five minutes. The concert itself was filmed at the first Washington D.C. Blues Festival in November 1970.
Wolf has a great band with him for this concert. His old side kick, Hubert Sumlin is in fine form and we can hear him clearly throughout the performance. It is a good insight into his style which I am sure guitarists will love. We also see and hear the fantastic piano man Sunnyland Slim who turns in a great performance (film on Slim is rarer than Howlin Wolf!). We also see drummer S.P. Leary who played a lot in Chicago and spent time in Muddy's band as well.
OK, something different for my reviews, the bonus track is the absolute highlight of the film. It is in colour and shows a vital, entertaining and charismatic Wolf doing the Mississippi Sheiks tune "Sitting On Top Of The World" which was a hit for Wolf at Chess and covered by the Cream in the late 1960s. It is fantastic you'll play that one over and over. Hey, Hubert Sumlin is playing a Rickenbacker guitar!
The main concert is filmed in B&W and the sound is not that good, Wolf's voice seems to be buried in the mix. A lot of the shots of Wolf are out of focus and the guitar and piano (which are good) are too loud. Wolf does not seem to be the man we have seen before, the one I saw and met in person in 1968 at the Cafe Au Go Go in NY. He turns in a lackluster, apathetic and subdued performance. He is more intent on telling the audience how his is the REAL Wolf and the real deal and so on and seems to waste a lot of time.
He sits, prances, lays down on stage and seems to have lost his focus-at this performance. I have always loved the Wolf and have collected over 30 of his CDs over the years. I regard myself as a big fan, but this show does not do him justice. Again, the the band is good but the sound quality is not great. I have seen him live in clubs and he was superb, maybe its due to the larger venue and his age at the time (about 6 years before he died). Also Wolf only plays harp in this set and no slide guitar(as in "Dust My Broom" and "Down At The Bottom")or any guitar at all and that was a disappointment.
OK the set list. The concert begins with a long version of "Dust My Broom" which turns into "Highway 49" with a lot of repetition. Wolf then proceeds to do a version of his biggest hit "How Many More Years"in which he does do his famous "one note vibrato" on the harp-really cool. He learned the harp from his brother-in-law Sonny Boy Williamson II. We then hear the highlight of the set "Killing Floor" just great, even if Wolf changes the words a bit. A sound version. In-between the tunes are some interviews with Wolf and Sunnyland Slim, some of it is interesting.
The next tune "Howlin' On My Darling (Baby) one of Wolf's signature tunes is great but very short we lose some to another interview. As we do again with Willie Dixon's "Back Door Man" which, in this case is too bad. The final three tunes, "I Want To Have A Word With You", "Smile At Me" (these run together) and "Decoration Day" are done with a lot of talking and banter as well as stage antics. "Decoration Day" is almost a Talking Blues like Albert King used to do. The set ends with a harp lead instrumental, not on the track list.
I don't review products I don't enjoy or find historically important for the Blues. I love all Blues. If you are a Blues fan, or are a player, this is a interesting DVD to have in your collection. If you have interest in Chicago Blues, this is a good show to see. However, if you worry about sound and picture quality or only have a casual interest in the Wolf or Blues you should begin with one of the other DVDs outlined at the beginning of this review."
Nice to have a full concert; too bad it's not 1960 rather th
David Stine | Rockford, IL USA | 12/06/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I just reviewed this DVD for my local blues society. I won't waste a lot of time, but I will send you to Perry Celestino's very accurate and very well-written review. I am in 100% agreement, and I, too, am a HUGE fan of the Wolf's work. Hubert Sumlin makes this video. Buy the video for what Hubert adds to the unbalanced sound and somewhat lackluster performance of Wolf. The "Tail Dragger" seems old, tired, and going through the motions. At this point in his career, he had had, I believe, one heart attack and was on kidney dialysis. The Howlin' Wolf Story on DVD is crisper, it sounds better, it and gives a better insight into the Howlin' Wolf we blues fans love. Buy this for an example of a Howlin' Wolf concert--of which there are few."
One of the all time greats
GB | 12/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Very little Howlin' Wolf video exists, making this a must-see for all blues fans. The back-up band (including Hubert Sumlin and Sunnyland Slim) is awesome, and Wolf puts on an amazing performance on vocals and harmonica, having total command of the stage. There are a couple of drawbacks - the audio quality is uneven, with the piano inaudible in certain spots, and Wolf seems a little unfocused - he talks his way through parts of the concert instead of singing. Also there are some unfortunate edits where they cut to interviews in the middle of songs. But these are minor flaws in an otherwise great DVD. The bonus song, "Sittin' on Top of the World", is the highlight of the set. Also be sure to see The American Folk Blues Festival Volume 2, AFBF - The British Tours, and Devil Got My Woman for other great Howlin' Wolf performances."