Earl Hooker
The Genius Of
NUM5040
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Notes About the Release
Tucked deep into the wilds of Wisconsin’s Dairyland, Cuca Records was the custom recording and pressing outfit for the Badger state. From its opening in 1959 to the end in 1973, Jim Kirchstein recorded nearly 2000 sides ranging from polka and gospel to country and R&B, and issued over 1000 45s on his Sara, Night Owl, Polka Dot, Top Gun, Psalms, Lucky Leprechaun, Jolly Dutchmen, Sounds of Wisconsin, Age of Aquarius, Banana, Citation, Butternut, Dee Jay, and American imprints.

Following his tour in Korea, Kirchstein returned to his hometown of Sauk City and opened a record store in the cellar of his brother’s toy store. As the business grew, so too did his interests, resulting in the lamentably-named Swastika label in 1959. RCA was manufacturing records for Kirchstein at the time, and certain workers and management took issue with the design and forced a quick rebrand. (“That was a very dumb thing I did,” Kirchstein reflected years later.) And so it was that Cuca Records was born, with Willie Tremain & The Thunderbirds’ “Midnight Express” reissued in August of that year on the new label, inspired by a nickname of his wife’s Mexican-American cousin.
Though the studio was located in rural Sauk City, Cuca quickly became a go-to destination for black artists looking to cut on the cheap. “Black musicians, especially the young R&B bands loved to come to this little town since they were treated as royalty. Often I would hear ‘Hey, there ain’t no black people here!’” Kirchstein remarked. “My folks’ grocery store next door was always opened for bread and bologna before the late seasons started—with a quick trip downtown for wine; one could buy carry-out liquor up to midnight in those days. It really was a lot of fun then, not work even, though the sessions were long.”

Guitarist Earl Hooker was another Illinois customer, making the journey from Chicago up I-90 in October 1964. The cousin of blues giant John Lee Hooker, Earl was a decade into his career by the time he hit Sauk City, cutting singles for Rockin’, King, Argo, Bea & Baby, Checker, Chief, CJ, Age, and Mel-Lon, with little to show for it. “Earl called and set up a 7:00 appointment,” Kirchstein recalled. “At about midnight I gave up and then they came in. They were very tired after a long day of travel and finding us, but we got a few bottles of wine… About 2AM we got recording and it was one of the finest sessions. We recorded all night.” The fruit of that session and a handful of others make up Hooker’s 1967 LP, The Genius Of. The mostly instrumental album consisted of eight Hooker originals alongside a reworking of Delta classic “Dust My Broom,” and bluesy covers of Sam & Dave’s “Hold On... I’m Coming,” James Brown’s “I Got You” (called “The Screwdriver” here) and “Sleepwalking”—the latter coyly obscured on the label as “Bertha” in tribute to his wife. After a lifelong battle with tuberculosis, Earl Hooker perished in 1970 at the age of 40.
Product Details
TRACK LIST

Earl Hooker Two Bugs In A Rug
Earl Hooker Hold On... I’m Coming
Earl Hooker Off The Hook
Earl Hooker Dust My Broom
Earl Hooker Hot And Heavy
Earl Hooker The Screwdriver
Earl Hooker Bertha
Earl Hooker The Foxtrot
Earl Hooker End Of The Blues
Earl Hooker Walking The Floor
Earl Hooker Hooker Special
Earl Hooker Something You Ate
Tucked deep into the wilds of Wisconsin’s Dairyland, Cuca Records was the custom recording and pressing outfit for the Badger state. From its opening in 1959 to the end in 1973, Jim Kirchstein recorded nearly 2000 sides ranging from polka and gospel to country and R&B, and issued over 1000 45s on his Sara, Night Owl, Polka Dot, Top Gun, Psalms, Lucky Leprechaun, Jolly Dutchmen, Sounds of Wisconsin, Age of Aquarius, Banana, Citation, Butternut, Dee Jay, and American imprints.

Following his tour in Korea, Kirchstein returned to his hometown of Sauk City and opened a record store in the cellar of his brother’s toy store. As the business grew, so too did his interests, resulting in the lamentably-named Swastika label in 1959. RCA was manufacturing records for Kirchstein at the time, and certain workers and management took issue with the design and forced a quick rebrand. (“That was a very dumb thing I did,” Kirchstein reflected years later.) And so it was that Cuca Records was born, with Willie Tremain & The Thunderbirds’ “Midnight Express” reissued in August of that year on the new label, inspired by a nickname of his wife’s Mexican-American cousin.
Though the studio was located in rural Sauk City, Cuca quickly became a go-to destination for black artists looking to cut on the cheap. “Black musicians, especially the young R&B bands loved to come to this little town since they were treated as royalty. Often I would hear ‘Hey, there ain’t no black people here!’” Kirchstein remarked. “My folks’ grocery store next door was always opened for bread and bologna before the late seasons started—with a quick trip downtown for wine; one could buy carry-out liquor up to midnight in those days. It really was a lot of fun then, not work even, though the sessions were long.”

Guitarist Earl Hooker was another Illinois customer, making the journey from Chicago up I-90 in October 1964. The cousin of blues giant John Lee Hooker, Earl was a decade into his career by the time he hit Sauk City, cutting singles for Rockin’, King, Argo, Bea & Baby, Checker, Chief, CJ, Age, and Mel-Lon, with little to show for it. “Earl called and set up a 7:00 appointment,” Kirchstein recalled. “At about midnight I gave up and then they came in. They were very tired after a long day of travel and finding us, but we got a few bottles of wine… About 2AM we got recording and it was one of the finest sessions. We recorded all night.” The fruit of that session and a handful of others make up Hooker’s 1967 LP, The Genius Of. The mostly instrumental album consisted of eight Hooker originals alongside a reworking of Delta classic “Dust My Broom,” and bluesy covers of Sam & Dave’s “Hold On... I’m Coming,” James Brown’s “I Got You” (called “The Screwdriver” here) and “Sleepwalking”—the latter coyly obscured on the label as “Bertha” in tribute to his wife. After a lifelong battle with tuberculosis, Earl Hooker perished in 1970 at the age of 40.

TRACK LIST

Earl Hooker Two Bugs In A Rug
Earl Hooker Hold On... I’m Coming
Earl Hooker Off The Hook
Earl Hooker Dust My Broom
Earl Hooker Hot And Heavy
Earl Hooker The Screwdriver
Earl Hooker Bertha
Earl Hooker The Foxtrot
Earl Hooker End Of The Blues
Earl Hooker Walking The Floor
Earl Hooker Hooker Special
Earl Hooker Something You Ate
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