The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions Howlin' Wolf (Chess) American blues artists on visits to Britain began recording sporadically with British musicians in the late 1950s, but the sessions were generally for British release only and on the whole were under-promoted and sold poorly. By the early 1970s however many of those British session players had become rock stars with a large enough international following to interest American labels such as Chess, which had Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry under contract. This blues 'super-session' was the result. Chess sent all three of its biggest stars to London to cut albums, Waters with guests including Rory Gallagher, Steve Winwood and Mitch Mitchell, and Berry with members of The Faces and the Average White Band. Berry cut an album that yielded a live recording of the execrable My Ding-A-Ling - the only US No1 hit for the many who wrote a long list of rock'n'roll classics including Johnny B. Goode, Promised Land and You Never Can Tell. Wolf's album, cut with the Rolling Stones rhythm section of Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, plus regular Stones pianist Ian Stewart with Eric Clapton on lead guitar, was the first and also the best of these outings by a considerable distance. The still young British blues fans brought rock'n'roll punch, but also freshness and finesse, to a number of the great blues singer's old hits and some lesser known tunes. These performances of course cannot replace the classic Wolf singles cut for Chess and Modern Records in the 1950s and early 60s, but they made them accessible to rock fans while remaining true to the authentic blues feeling. Clapton deserves much of the credit for this, having insisted on the presence of Wolf's regular guitarist Hubert Sumlin, and having organised the band. On one day Wyman and Watts couldn't make the sessions, so he called in Ringo Starr and Klaus Voorman - John Lennon and George Harrison's bass player of choice following their rift with Paul McCartney. The album includes tracks with both rhythm sections, augmented by a young American harmonica virtuoso, Jeffrey Carp, who sadly drowned soon after the sessions. After producer Norman Dayron took the tapes back to the US some overdubs were added, notably more keyboard parts by Winwood. Perhaps the most arresting moment on the original album is the studio dialogue between Wolf and Clapton as they work on getting the right groove for Little Red Rooster with Wyman and Watts, who had cut the Willie Dixon tune in 1964 with the Rolling Stones and taken it to No1 on the British singles chart - still the only pure blues song to have occupied that position. Wolf played it differently, and listening to the chat you get a real insight into the way both generations of musicians worked, and the huge respect in which the millionaire English boys held the then 60-year-old Mississippi-born bluesman. A deluxe edition of the album was issued in 2003 with a selection of bonus tracks and alternate mixes, which offer more snapshots of some extraordinary blues sessions. It was recorded in 1970 and released in 1971. Wolf was in poor health during the sessions, and died in 1976. Clapton and Sumlin collaborated again in 2005 on another star-studded session, Sumlin's About Them Shoes.