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THE HOWLIN' WOLF

USA, 2003 (MIFF 2003, Mooks Backbeat)

Director: Don McGlynn

A 1965 installment of TV pop show Shindig: Rolling Stones Brian Jones and Mick Jagger gush about their inspirational first listen to Little Red Rooster. When it looks like the show's presenter is going to prattle on, Jones snarls, "Shut up and bring out the Wolf!" The Stones had only appeared on the programme on the condition that veteran bluesman Howlin' Wolf appear as their guest— and this outstanding film captures many such moments. MIFF's long association with Don McGlynn, one of the finest music documentary makers working today, continues with this, the sixth of his films we have screened in as many years. As is to be expected The Howlin' Wolf is the last word on a legendary and influential artist. Uncut performances of classic tracks, countless additional excerpts, investigative work tracking down surviving collaborators and backing band plus intimate sessions with family and friends. Also included, the tragedy of Wolf's early years in the Mississippi delta, his estrangement from his devoutly religious mother, little known military service, his showmanship and immense generosity, not to mention dozens of timeless cuts including Moanin' at Midnight, Shake for Me, Dust My Broom, Smokestack Lightning, Killing Floor and Back Door Man. Exceptional.

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