Last Updated October 18, 2010
© 2005-2010 Scot A. Pell
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Vangaurd
In 2002 Vangaurd released an lp consisting of unreleased and reissued material from Hooker's performances at the Newport Folk Festival. Vangaurd had previously released many Hooker songs on compilation LPs from the Newport shows. As far as I am aware this was the first to feature Hooker alone from the label.
LPs
The Newport Folk FestivalVRS 9083 VRS 9083-The Newport Folk Festival, 1960
Vangaurd circa 1986The Great Blues Men VSD 25/36-The Great Bluesmen, 1986
Live At NewportVangaurd VSD 79703 John Lee Hooker, Live at Newport,2002
Hobo Blues/Maudie/I Can't Quit You Baby/Stop Now Baby/Tupelo/Sometimes You Make Me Feel So Bad/Bus Station Blues/Let's Make It/The Great Fire of Natchez/Boom Boom/You're Gonna Need Another Favor/Hobo Blues (Alt.)/Boom Boom (Alt.)


Vee Jay

Much of Hooker’s most familiar works appeared on the Vee Jay Label. He recorded several singles for the label starting in the mid 50s. His first LP, I’m John Lee Hooker, was a collection of these earlier singles. In the late 60s Vee Jay’s financial and legal troubles led to their bankruptcy and the eventual formation of Vee Jay International.

VJI reissued several records but original recording had essentially stopped. One of these reissues was a 2lp set from Hooker marketed under the Vee Jay Vintage series. The short lived attempt to market "new" material used a label design reminiscent of better times, releasing only a handfull of various artists issues and 2lp reissues of earlier records. The brackets label bottom right is an 80s reissue put out by the Suite Beats Music Group and was released with the "New Re-Issue" sticker on the shrink wrap.

Many of Hooker’s VeeJay LPs were reissued by other independant and affiliated companies such as Buddah, Exodus and Dynasty. In the 80s much of Hooker’s Vee Jay material, including some un-released sides, were leased to and released by Charly Records in the UK. Vee Jay Records has since been revived and has reissued several cds and compilations under the Collectables label.

78s
  164 Mambo Chillen/Time is Marching 1955
  188 Every Night/Trouble Blues 1956
Vee Jay 205VJ 78 205 b 205 Dimples/Baby Lee 1956
78 233 a78 233 b 233 The Road Is So Rough/I’m So Worried Baby 1957
  245 I’m So Excited/I See You When You’re Weak 1957
  255 Little Wheel/Rosie Mae 1957
  265 You Can Lead Me, Baby/Unfriendly Baby 1958
Vee-Jay 293VJ 78 293 b 293 I Love You Honey/You’ve Taken My Woman 1958
 

308 Maudie/ I'm In The Mood

  319 Tennessee Blues/ Boogie Chillun 1959
  331 Hobo Blues/Crawlin' Kingsnake 1959

45s
Vee Jay Company SleeveVee Jay "Singles of Significance" Sleeve

Vee Jay's 45 label design seems to mirror, more or less, changes on LP issues and hopefully these issues will reinforce the LP dates.
VJ 164VJ 164 b
164 Mambo Chillen/Time is Marching 1955  
VJ 188VJ 188 b 188 Every Night/Trouble Blues 1956 VJ 188 WLP
VJ 205 b 205 Dimples/Baby Lee 1956 VJ 205 WLP
VJ 233VJ 233 b 233 The Road Is So Rough/I’m So Worried Baby 1957 VJ 233 WLP
Vee Jay 245 WLPVJ 245 b WLP 245 I’m So Excited/I See You When You’re Weak 1957  
Vee Jay 255VJ 255 b 255 Little Wheel/Rosie Mae 1957  
Vee Jay 265VJ 265 b 265 You Can Lead Me Baby/Unfriendly Woman 1958  
VJ 293VJ 293 b 293 I Love You Honey/You’ve Taken My Woman 1958  
VJ 308VJ 308 b 308 Maudie/I'm In The Mood 1959  
Vee Jay 45-319VJ 319 b 319 Tennessee Blues/ Boogie Chillun 1959
Vee Jay 319 WLP
Vee Jay 331VJ 331 b 331 Hobo Blues/Crawlin' Kingsnake 1959 VJ 331 WLP
Vee Jay 349VJ 349 b 349 No Shoes/Solid Sender 1960 vj 349 wlp
VJ 366VJ 366 b 366 Dusty Road/Tupelo 1960  
Vee Jay 379VJ 379 b 379 I'm Mad Again/I'm Going Upstairs 1961 Vee Jay 379 wlp
VJ 397 aVJ 397 b 397 Want Ad Blues/Take Me As I Am 1961 VJ 397 WLP
VJ 438VJ 438 b 438 Boom Boom/Drug Store Woman 1962  
Vee Jay 453VJ 453 b 453 She's Mine/A New Leaf 1962  
VJ 493VJ 493 b 493 Take A Look At Yourself /Frisco Blues 1963
VJ 493 (Frisco Blues)
  *493 Take A Look At Yourself/ I Love Her 1963
*I have found listings for this alternate b-side release but have yet to find a copy.
VJ 538VJ 538 b 538 I'm Leaving/ Birmingham Blues 1963  
Vee Jay 45-575VJ 575 b 575 Send Me Your Pillow/ Don't Look Back 1964  
VJ 670VJ 670 b 670 Big Legs, Tight Skirt/ Your Baby Ain't Sweet Like Mine 1965  
VJ 708 WLPVJ 708 b WLP 708 It Serves Me Right/ Flowers on The Hour 1966
*I believe the scan on the left to be a later, possibly 70's reissue. I have not, however, seen a stock copy matching the brackets label on the left so it is possible that this is the only version of the commercial release and may date from 1966.
VJ 708 Re-issue (possibly 70s)
Universal AcetateUniversal Acetate Nearly all of John Lee Hooker's Vee Jay sides were recorded at Universal Sound Studios. Universal was the studio of choice for many Chicago independents. Vee Jay and Chess both recorded there extensively taking advantage of the state of the art equipment, personnel and techniques first pioneered by Bill Putnam.
LPs

Vee Jay used what is commonly called the “Script” label on releases up until 1960. This was followed by the “Oval Rainbow” label in 60 and the “Brackets Rainbow” label starting in 63 or 64. Vee Jay international releases used a plain black label with the VJ in brackets or without over the center of the spindle hole. The final variation is the script design of the Vee Jay Vintage series used on little more than a dozen releases.

It appears that they began using the “SR” designation in aobut 1961 to designate stereo releases. Those with the black and silver label are VeeJay international releases and many appear to date from the 80s although the label design was in use starting in the late 60s. Many of these issues were sold in stereo jackets although the records themselves were often pressed from old mono masters.

Having contracted out much of their pressings it wasn’t at all uncommon for pressing companies to use an older style label on a newer pressing. Most issues from 1049 back appear to have been first issued on the oval label disign, apart from 1007 which was first issued on the "Script" label. Stereo releases had "Stereo" printed either above the brackets or to the left of the spindle hole.

Promos using the script label were white label with in the same design with the printing in red. Oval Label Promos were also White label with the oval logo in black. The brackets logo was also white but with blue lettering and the bracketed [VJ] on either side of the spindle hole and several blue cross bars on 45 releases. The VJ International releases were white labels with the brackets above the spindle hole.

I have tried to avoid getting to wrapped up in the enigma that is Vee Jay label variation. Quite honestly, I believe the many sites labeling this pressing or that pressing as legitimate or true first pressing, are likely off base. As an independent label Vee Jay contracted out their pressings, and label printing to whomever was near, available or would press on credit. The picture becomes even more clouded during the mid-60s as Vee Jay scrambled to produce both records and raise cash. I tend to think these label/pressing variations most likely are the result of a small independent record label becoming a little to big for their own good.

Without assigning legitimacy here are the variations I have and my best guess as to when they were produced. Reading left to right, top to bottom.
1st Row:
1. Maroon Script Label. Long posted on this site as orginal label for LP 1007. Pressed by the American Record Pressing Company in Michigan. Script labels used on pressings into 1960.
2. Maroon Script Label. XCTV Matrix often touted as orginal pressing with better sound. I don't know if it predates the ARC pressing, but it does sound better.
3. Oval Vee Jay/Rainbow used 1960-64
4. Oval Vee Jay/Rainbow "Stereo"
Second Row:
1. Vee Jay Oval WLP
2. Vee Jay Brackets/Rainbow Label. Used starting around 1963 through bankruptcy.
3. Non-bracketed "VJ" promo. Both promo and stock (Silver/Black)copies of this variation start popping up around 1965. Coincidentally, the same year VJLP 8502 was released.
4. Silver/Black Bracketed VJ label. Runs 1972 through probably 1978.
Third Row:
1 VJ International-1972-78
2. Vee Jay Vintage Series-only 5 releases-1977
3. Silver/Black Bracket label. Probably dates late 70s early 80s. Why do I think this? I don't know, may be it's resemblance to the discotheque label below.
4. Discotheque Vee Jay release- late 1970s
5. Vee Jay Suite Beat release-1980s

I'm John Lee Hooker LP 1007/I’m John Lee Hooker, 1959
Released under Maroon Script Label, Oval Rainbow and Brackets Rainbow Label as Well as Black Brackets Logo as VJLP 1007
Dimples/Hobo Blues/I'm So Excited/I Love You Honey/Boogie Chillun'/ Little Wheel/I'm In The Mood/Maudie/Crawlin' King Snake/Every Night/Time Is Marching/Baby Lee
I'm JLH Suite Beat Reissue
Travelin'

LP 1023/Travelin’, 1960
Also released as SR 1023
No Shoes/I Wanna Walk/Canal Street Blues/Run On/I'm A Stranger/Whiskey and Wimmen/Solid Sender/Sunny Land/Goin' To California/I Can't Believe/I'll Know Tonight/Dusty Road

The Folk Lore of John Lee Hooker LP 1033/The Folk Lore of John Lee Hooker, 1961(SR 1033)
Tupelo/I'm Mad Again/I'm Going Upstairs/Want Ad Blues/Five Long Years/I Like To See You Walk/The Hobo/Hard Headed Woman/Wednesday Evening Blues/Take Me As I Am/My First Wife Left Me/You're Looking Good Tonight

 
Burnin' LP 1043/Burnin’, 1962 (SR 1043)
Boom Boom/Process/Lost A Good Girl/A New Leaf/Blues Before Sunrise/Let's Make It/I Got A Letter/Thelma/Drug Store Woman/Keep Your Hands To Yourself/What Do You Say
The Best of John Lee Hooker LP 1049/The Best of John Lee Hooker, 1962 (SR 1049,VJLP 1049)
Dimples/Boogie Chillun'/Little Wheel/Crawlin' King Snake/No Shoes/Tupelo/Drug Store Woman/Boom Boom/Hobo Blues/I'm In The Mood/Whiskey and Wimmen/Dusty Road
The Big Soul of John Lee Hooker LP 1058/The Big Soul of John Lee Hooker, 1963 (SR 1058,VJLP 1058)
San Francisco/Take A Look At Yourself/Send Me Your Pillow/She Shot Me Down/I Love Her/Old Time Shimmy/You Know I Love You/Big Soul/Good Rocking Mama/Onions/No One Told Me
John Lee Hooker On Campus LP 1066/On Campus, 1963 (SR1066)
I'm Leavin'/Love Is A Burning Thing/Birmingham Blues/I Want To Shout/Don't Look Back/I Want To Hug You/Poor Me/I Want To Rumble/Half A Stranger/My Grinding Mill/Bottle Up and Go/One Way Ticket
Concert At Newport LP 1078/John Lee Hooker at Newport, 1964 (SR1078, VJLP 1078)
I Can't Quit You Now Blues/Stop Baby, Don't Hold Me That Way/Tuplo/Bus Station Blues/Freight Train Be My Friend/Boom Boom Boom/Talk That Talk Baby/Sometime Baby You Make Me Feel So Bad/You've Got To Walk Yourself/Let's Make It/The Mighty Fire
Is He The World's Greatest Blues Singer? LP 8502/Is He The World’s Greatest Blues Singer?, 1965 (VJLP 8502)
Crawlin' King Snake/Blues Before Sunrise/Want Ad Blues/Whiskey and Wimmen/The Mighty Fire/Talk That Talk Baby/When My First Wife Left Me/Wednesday Evening Blues/Maudie/Time Is Marching/Boom Boom
"Gold" VJS-2-1004/ "Gold", 1977
Reissue of Vee Jay Lps 1049 and 1058. The "Gold" title was also used on releases by Little Richard, Jerry Butler and Hoyt Axton. Most other releases in the Vintage series were various artists LPs.
Oddities
Post bankruptcy Vee Jay's catalog made it's way into many hands. Both legitmate and outright counterfiet releases have been issued over the years. Having found two, but expecting to find more, I've started a section for these releases.
Discotheque Records Based in California released at least seven records, four of which are reissues of material recorded for Vee Jay by John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, Lightnin' Hopkins and Memphis Slim. One advertised as "Dancing To The Favorite Beatle Hits!" and two others that may have been straight knock off lps. Discotheque Records
  DS 7006 John Lee Hooker Plays For Doscotheque Dancing, Vol. I, 197?
Send Me Your Pillow/ She Shot Me down/ I Love Her/ Old Time Shimmy/ Good Rockin' Mama/ Onions/ Going To California/ I'll Know Tonight/ Dusty Road/ I Want To Walk
 
Discotheque Dancing Vol. II DS 7007 John Lee Hooker Plays For Doscotheque Dancing, Vol. II, 197?
Thelma/ Keep Your Hands To Yourself/ What Do You Say/ Lost A Good Girl/ Let's Make It// Hard Headed Woman/ I'm going Upstairs/ I'm Leaving/ I Want To Shout/ I Want To Hug You
DS 7007

Verve (Folkways/Forecast)

Verve Records took over Moses Asch's Folkways label and continued the traditon of preserving America's folk music heritage. This album comes from a UK session with the Groundhogs that would be reissued on both Wand 689 ,On The Water Front and Cleve Records who credits John Mayall on the LP.
Verve Forecast Label..and Seven Nights FT-3003 John Lee Hooker and Seven Nights, 1965 Also released under FTS prefix (stereo)
Bad Luck And Trouble/ Waterfront/ No One Pleases Me But You/ It's Rainin Here/ It's A Crazy Mixed Up World/ Seven Days and Seven Nights// Mai Lee/ I'm Losin' You/ Little Girl Go Back To School/ Little Dreamer/ Don't Be Messin' With My Bread

Wand

Wand was a devision of Sceptor records a company founded by New Jersey house wife Florence Greenburg who's career spanned from 1958-1976. She had been the first to record the Shirelles who were classmates of her daughter at the time. Other artists on the label included Dione Warwick, The Isley Brothers, The Kingsmen and several notable blues artists.
On The Waterfront is a reissue of the Verve/Folkways LP ...And Seven Nights. Tracks are re-arranged and re-titled.
On The WaterfrontWand WDS-689 On The Waterfront, 1970
Don't Want Nobody Else/ Storming OnThe Deep Blue Sea/ Losing You/ Go Back To School Little Girl/ Don't Be Messin' With My Bread/ Mai Lee// I Cover The Waterfront/ Crazy Mixed Up World/ Seven Days/ Little Dreamer/ Lost Everything

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