Jay Hooks

Texas, USA has a long and storied tradition of turning out some of the very finest blues/rock artists. Included on this list, you will find such greats as Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top, Johnny Winter, Bobby Mack, and many others. With all of these tremendous artists, Texas blues/rock has become a genre entirely all its own.

Often overlooked in this list of blues/rock “Who’s Who” is Houston native Jay Hooks. Though still a young man of 30 (which sounds very young to this reviewer!) Hooks is nonetheless a very seasoned and proven performer whose sound is deeply steeped in the great Texas blues/rock heritage. However, unlike many of his contemporaries who have opted to stray from the classic sounds of the past, Hooks remains true to the more brash and intense sound that helped to make Stevie Ray and others famous.

His new, self-titled release is on the very fine Dutch label Mascot-Provogue. At their web site, they quote Hooks as saying “…I just plug it in and turn it all up,that’s what I do…”. Indeed, he does just that very nicely. If other guitarists begin their work day by strapping on a axe, then surely Hooks is wielding a chain saw at his office. He is a ferocious and passionate player, profoundly influenced by both Stevie Ray and Hendrix. Like them, his sound is raw and fresh but without sounding like an imitation of either. This is not dance or elevator music and his guitar will not soothe, but rather bite you like a timber rattler. It is a straight ahead, full force, wide open, volume to the max blues/rock addict’s dream come true.

As is the case with all of the CDs I review, this one is good throughout. Jay mercifully inserts a very nice acoustic song into the middle of this set, to allow your pulse time to return to normal before absorbing the balance of the recording. There is so much good material here, but “Smothered” has to be my favorite on the CD. This song should be listened in the dictionary as the official definition for the term “Texas rock”.

The CD is available through the Mascot-Provogue web site or importers such as Amazon.co.uk, which is where I obtained my copy.

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