John Lee Hooker’s ‘Burnin’ gets special 60th anniversary reissues

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John Lee Hooker’s ‘Burnin’ gets special 60th anniversary reissues

(Image: Supplied)
Words by Mixdown Staff

Featuring several new vinyl pressings

The 60th anniversary of John Lee Hooker’s Burnin’ is being commemorated with several special reissues from Craft Recordings.

Set for release on February 24 and available for pre-order today, the album includes the original recording of Hooker’s highly-influential signature hit, ‘Boom Boom’, and features members of the legendary Funk Brothers (Motown Records’ celebrated house band).  

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Newly remastered from the original analog tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, Burnin’ will be available in several formats. A 180-gram vinyl LP features a stereo mix of the album, as it was first released in 1962, while a tip-on jacket, which replicates Vee-Jay Records’ original designs, rounds out the package. 

In addition to a wide release on classic black vinyl, fans can also find the album in a variety of limited-edition colour pressings, including Flame Orange vinyl (via Barnes and Noble), Translucent Red vinyl (via Independent Record Stores), and Fuego Blend vinyl (available exclusively via, along with a brand new official t-shirt featuring the iconic album artwork).

Recorded in just one day in November 1961, Burnin’ paired Hooker with a full, electric band for the first time on record, with six of the most talented musicians of the era – all of whom served as members of Motown Records’ house players. 

Joining Hooker was keyboardist Joe Hunter, bassist James Jamerson, guitarist Larry Veeder, and drummer Benny Benjamin. A horn section, featuring saxophonist Hank Crosby and baritone saxophonist Andrew “Mike” Terry, added additional textures to the songs. 

These men, who soon came to be known as the Funk Brothers, would appear on the biggest hits of the decade, backing sessions by the Supremes, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, the Temptations, and Stevie Wonder.

The material that the group covered that day – predominantly originals by Hooker – was also incredibly strong. Among them was ‘Boom Boom’, considered to be one of the most important songs in recorded music. The song would become Hooker’s signature hit and an instant blues standard. 

But the recording was an outlier for the bluesman, as journalist Bill Dahl explains in his liner notes: “Hooker had a rare gift for improvising songs in the studio, sometimes incorporating lyrics from other sources and seldom playing anything the same way from one take to the next. 

“It was an impromptu mindset that often left his sidemen in the unenviable position of either sinking or swimming. But he happened to have a song in mind for this date. 

“The tension between the stop-time vocal passages in ‘Boom Boom’ and the release whenever the band broke into a straight-ahead jumping rhythm was a fresh development in Hooker’s massive songbook. 

“Arrangements this concisely conceived weren’t John Lee’s primary strength, but he was proving surprisingly open to updating his sound more than a decade into his recording career.”

You can pre-order now. Meanwhile, the advance single ‘Boom Boom’ (Mono and Stereo Mixes) is available now to stream/download.