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Built For Comfort

Howlin’ Wolf

Howlin' Wolf (from bbc.co.uk)

Howlin’ Wolf – Chester Arthur Burnett (photo from bbc.co.uk)

Built For Comfort appears on the album that Howlin’ Wolf  didn’t like.

Howlin wolf album

This album did not sell well.

Chess Records reckoned they made a mistake with the cover. Telling everyone that the artist doesn’t like the album probably did not help sales.

Howlin’ Wolf – born Chester Arthur Burnett – not only didn’t like the album, he didn’t like the cover either.

But he did like his electric guitar.

I liked the album – at the time I bought it, I loved it.

And I still love it …

It recalls an exciting age personally and historically. And this album is an experiment that had a pretty rough outcome – like many of the things with which we experimented in teenage years in the late 60’s.

Although a great innovator himself, Howlin’ Wolf did not seem to appreciate some developments in the playing of the electric guitar. On the album itself (Track 2 – Tail Dragger) he talks about the electric guitar having a “qwail” sound that he dislikes. And in the biography, Moanin’ At Midnight, the guitarist Peter Cosey tells of Howlin’ Wolf looking at him at saying:

Why don’t you take them wah-wahs and all that other shit and throw it in the lake on your way to the barber shop?

Sounds like he did not like long hair on men, either.

Listening now I can understand why Howlin’ Wolf (and many others) didn’t like it. Compare the two versions of the song (below) both from Howlin’ Wolf. The version from this album was the first version I heard.

Built For Comfort fits nicely with the stature of both Willie Dixon (who wrote and first recorded the song) and Howlin’ Wolf, with whom it become synonymous. Both were very big men … well over 6 feet tall and approaching 300lbs (136 kilos).

Another Dixon song that appears on this Howlin’ Wolf album pays homage to their physiques – Three Hundred Pounds Of Joy.

So what’s the link between Built For Comfort and Hoochie Coochie Man?

Simple – Willie Dixon wrote them both.

This is is the version from the 1969 album (the one he didn’t like).

And this comes from the 1966 album The Real Folk Blues.

 

Other Stuff You Might Enjoy.

* The Howlin’ Wolf Story a great documentary (1h 24m) . I had technical problems with this at about the 23m mark – had to reload a couple of times. It may have been me but if you have problems too, you can see the show here in 8 parts – The Howlin’ Wolf Story.

* Willie Dixon singing Built For Comfort.

* Dion’s version.

* Taj Mahal

Destination next?

North:  High Water (for Charley Patton) by Bob Dylan
East:     Hard Time Killing Floor by R. L. Burnside
South:   Hoochie Coochie Man.
West:    Bring It On Home by Sonny Boy Williamson 

Crossroad 23

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