Chester Arthur Burnett, known as Howlin' Wolf, was a Chicago blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player, originally from Mississippi. With a booming voice and looming physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists. Musician and critic Cub Koda noted, "no one could match Howlin' Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits." Producer Sam Phillips recalled, "When I heard Howlin' Wolf, I said, 'This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies'". Several of his songs, including "Smokestack Lightnin'", "Back Door Man", "Killing Floor" and "Spoonful", have become blues and blues rock standards. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 51 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time."
Where Chess' two-volume Muddy Waters anthology His Best was divided according to chronological guidelines, the Howlin' Wolf series of the same name follows a different pattern. His Best, Vol. 1 contained all of the Wolf's best-known songs – as if the label never planned a sequel. Consequently, when it came time to assemble Vol. 2, they had two major items ("The Natchez Burning," "Down in the Bottom") that didn't make the first cut, a take of "The Red Rooster" with dialogue, plus a host of songs familiar to Wolf fans, but not casual blues fans. Since Chester Burnett was one of the greatest bluesmen in history, these second-tier songs aren't castoffs – they're forgotten or unappreciated classics. They might not be as monumental as the songs on His Best, Vol. 1, yet they're great songs, making His Best, Vol. 2 an excellent complement to its essential predecessor.
A comprehensive collection of Wolf's early years. The songs on this set dating from 1951-1958, sum up the first half of Wolf's recording career with Chess Records, a period when he sung mostly self-penned compositions. The lead track 'Smokestack Lightnin'' is probably the most covered, being recorded by the Animals and Yardbirds among others. All tracks have been digitally remastered for optimum sound quality.
The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions is an album by blues musician Howlin' Wolf, released in the summer of 1971 on Chess Records. It was one of the first of the super session blues albums, setting a blues master among famous musicians from the second generation of rock and roll, in this case Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wyman. It peaked at #79 on the Billboard 200.
His Best is a greatest hits compilation album by American blues musician Howlin' Wolf. The album was originally released on April 8, 1997 by MCA and Chess Records. The album was a part of the 50th anniversary of Chess Records, which was in that same year (see 1997 in music). Ten years later, on April 17, 2007, the album was re-released by Chess and Geffen Records as The Definitive Collection.
Do we really need a second His Best collection from Howlin' Wolf? Absolutely. An artist about whom everything was larger than life surely deserves a second volume of his finest Chess Records work. Although this is volume 2, one should not consider the content secondary to the first His Best, even though that one contained classics like "Moanin' at Midnight," "Smokestack Lightning," "Howlin' for My Darling," "Spoonful," "Red Rooster," and more. Vol. 2 contains its own delights, including the almost-rock & roll "Howlin' Wolf Boogie," the rollicking "All Night Boogie," the energetic shuffle of "Rockin' Daddy" (complete with some stellar piano work from Otis Spann), and the slow, intense drawl of "The Natchez Burnin'." And "Tail Dragger" alone is worth the price of the CD, while the false start at the beginning of "The Red Rooster" provides an amusing coda.