Little Howlin' Wolf - Cool Truth
RIYL Captain Beefheart, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Dr. John, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Howlin Wolf.
Little Howlin' Wolf is a street musician, bluesman, actor, storyteller and truth seeker. He is also a true outsider, whose wrenching soulfulness and fire-brained intensity have been captured in a breadcrumb trail of confounding and intentionally obscure self-released records. In the late 1960s Wolf -- born James Pobiega in 1950 -- was already a saxophone wailing fixture at the legendary Chicago hangout, Maxwell Street Market. By the mid-1980s he released nearly three dozen 45s. Those singles are sprawling journeys into Wolf's world vision, as told through his gravelly voice and an array of instruments in styles and influences not limited to: American Indian, Polish and gypsy folk musics, Voodoo, vocal chants, blues, calypso and avant jazz. Often, it's all filtered through overdubbed abstraction.
Wolf issued two LPs collecting some of those singles -- "The Guardian" (1982) and "Cool Truth" (1985) -- both now reissued by Family Vineyard. "Cool Truth" is a damaged, hallucinatory journey that radiates from a Chicago blues core. Performing most, if not all, the instruments himself -- sax, guitar, harmonica, marimba, etc. -- Wolf speaks in tongues, hollers and serenades. The 12 songs recorded between 1979 and 1983 alternate between Sun Ra-style orchestration and primitive forms to more traditional blues takes. This reissue features replicated LP jackets, with Wolf's original transcendent liner notes, and labels bearing the Solidarity Solidarnosc Records name; never before seen photos; new essay by ethnomusicologist Ian Nagoski; and download coupon.