The Howlin' Wolf Album is a 1969 album by Howlin' Wolf, which mixed his traditional Blues sound with Psychedelic Rock. It was intended to be a Concept Album in which Howlin' Wolf was a rock singer. In a rather unusual take the singer himself disliked the album, but Chess Records just used this as an advertising strategy by putting this on the album.
If you're a blues purist you may consider this record to be a commercial sell-out which hasn't aged well. If you like Psychedelic Rock it's definitely interesting. Despite the singer's own objections the single "Evil" peaked at #43 in the Billboard and it was still added to Rolling Stone's Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time at #238.
This album was recorded during the same sessions that produced the similar and more famous Muddy Waters album Electric Mud, with the same backing group, the Rotary Connection, who Marshall Chess assembled out of prominent avant-garde jazz-rock musicians. The sessions with Howlin' Wolf were even more contentious than the Waters sessions, as, while Waters was more open to the experimentation, Howlin' Wolf so vocally expressed disdain for the new sound that, at one point, he told a session guitarist to take his wah-wah pedals and psychedelic effects and toss them in a lake. On both albums, neither singer plays guitar, but are misleadingly credited as such.
- "Spoonful" (3:52)
- "Tail Dragger" (4:33)
- "Smokestack Lightnin'" (3:56)
- "Moanin' at Midnight" (3:15)
- "Built for Comfort" (5:11)
- "The Red Rooster" (3:50)
- "Evil" (4:06)
- "Down in the Bottom" (2:45)
- "Three Hundred Pounds of Joy" (2:35)
- "Back Door Man" (6:51)
Three Hundred Tropes of Joy
- Alliterative Title: "Moanin' at Midnight" and "The Red Rooster".
- Blues: Just before the final track Howlin' Wolf explains to the listeners the origins of the blues and that they just have to watch him to learn how to play it.
- Cover Album: "Spoonful", "Tail Dragger", "Built for Comfort", "Down in the Bottom", "Three Hundred Pounds of Joy" and "Back Door Man" are all covers, written by Willie Dixon.
- Covers Always Lie: The cover is mostly correct, except for one little detail. Wolf was always fond of the electric guitar.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It is a new Howlin' Wolf album and he didn't like it himself.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: The album cover consists of three lines of text on a white background.
- One-Man Song: "Back Door Man".
- One-Word Title: "Spoonful" and "Evil".
- Psychedelic Rock: Traditional blues is mixed with a lot of wah-wah pedal and fuzzbox.
- Recycled In Space: It's blues legend Howlin' Wolf... with a psychedelic arrangement!
- Repurposed Pop Song: The songs have all been recorded before by the singer, just not in these versions.
- Self-Titled Album: As one can read on the cover.
- Shout-Out: The album cover of Brothers by The Black Keys appears to be a reference to this album.
- Spoken Word in Music: The album has spoken commentary by Howlin' Wolf between some of the songs.