Moanin' in the Moonlight

Moanin' in the Moonlight was the debut album by American blues singer Howlin' Wolf. The album was a compilation of previously issued singles by Chess Records.[4] It was originally released by Chess Records as a mono-format LP record in 1959 (see 1959 in music). The album has been reissued several times, including a vinyl reissue in 1969, with the playing order changed, titled Evil.

Moanin' in the Moonlight
Howlin' Wolf Moanin' in the Moonlight.jpg
Compilation album by
RecordedMay 14 or August 1951 at Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee – March 1959 in Chicago, Illinois[1][2]
GenreChicago blues, electric blues
ProducerLeonard Chess, Phil Chess, Willie Dixon, Sam Phillips
Howlin' Wolf chronology
Moanin' in the Moonlight
Howlin' Wolf
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4.5/5 stars (Original release) [3]5/5 stars (Howlin' Wolf/Moanin' In The Moonlight) Link

Recording and productionEdit

The two earliest songs on Moanin' in the Moonlight were "Moanin' at Midnight" and "How Many More Years". These two songs and 'All Night Boogie', were recorded in Memphis, the first two at Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee in July 1951, and, 'All Night Boogie', the last track on side one, in Memphis in 1953. These songs were sold to the Chess brothers, Leonard and Phil, who released them on two singles (Chess 1479 and Chess 1557), the first two titles being released on August 15, 1951. The rest of the songs on the album were recorded in Chicago, Illinois and were produced by either the Chess brothers and/or Willie Dixon.[1][2]

Artwork, packaging, and promotionEdit

The original version of Moanin' in the Moonlight featured cover artwork by Don S. Bronstein and sleeve notes by Billboard editor Paul Ackerman.[5] The label pressings from the original series have different colors on it because several pressing plants were used.[6]

The album was featured on an advertisement in Billboard magazine on August 10, 1959, which misprinted the album's title as Howlin' at Midnite.[7]


In 1987 Moanin' in the Moonlight was given a W.C. Handy Award under the category of "Vintage/Reissue Album (US)".[8] Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album as #153 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time,[9] maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list.[10] Robert Palmer has cited "How Many More Years" (recorded May 1951, unissued at the time, but later issued by Bear Family on CD BCD15460) as the first record to feature a distorted power chord, played by Willie Johnson on the electric guitar.[11]

Track listingEdit

All songs written by Chester Burnett, except when noted. (Although the original 1959 LP, and the UK Chess 1965 issue credited all compositions to 'C. Burnett' [Howlin' Wolf].)

Side one
  1. "Moanin' at Midnight" – 2:58
  2. "How Many More Years" – 2:42
  3. "Smokestack Lightnin'" – 3:07
  4. "Baby How Long" – 2:56
  5. "No Place to Go" – 2:59
  6. "All Night Boogie" – 2:12
Side two
  1. "Evil" – 2:55 (Willie Dixon)
  2. "I'm Leavin' You" – 3:01
  3. "Moanin' for My Baby" – 2:47
  4. "I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)" – 2:53
  5. "Forty-Four" – 2:51 (Roosevelt Sykes, credited to Burnett)
  6. "Somebody in My Home" – 2:27


The following people contributed to Moanin' in the Moonlight:[1][2]

Release historyEdit

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United States 1959 Chess Records mono LP LP-1434
United Kingdom February 1965 Chess Records mono LP CRL 4006
United Kingdom January 1967 Marble Arch mono LP MAL 665
United States 1969 Chess Records mono LP LP-1540
United States 1986 MCA Records/Chess Records mono LP CH-9195
mono Cassette CHC-9195


  1. ^ a b c Howlin' Wolf / Moanin' in the Moonlight (CD liner). Howlin' Wolf. United States: MCA Records. 1986. CHD-5908.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ a b c Humphrey, Mark (2007). The Definitive Collection (CD liner). Howlin' Wolf. United States: Geffen Records/Chess Records. B0008784-02/CHD-9375 BK02.
  3. ^ "AllMusic Review". Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  4. ^ Howlin' Wolf Sessionography accessed September 19, 2019
  5. ^ Ackerman, Paul. Moanin' in the Moonlight (Vinyl sleeve). Howlin' Wolf. United States: Chess Records. back cover. LP-1434.
  6. ^ David Edwards; Mike Callahan; Randy Watts. "Chess Album Discography, Part 1 (1956–1965)". Both Sides Now Publications. Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  7. ^ "Chess Producing Corporation Advertisement". Billboard. 71 (32): 30. August 10, 1959. Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  8. ^ Past Blues Music Awards Archived 2009-08-22 at the Wayback Machine. Blues Foundation. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
  9. ^ "Moanin' in the Moonlight by Howlin' Wolf". Rolling Stone. Jann S. Wenner. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
  10. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  11. ^ Robert Palmer, "Church of the Sonic Guitar", pp. 13-38 in Anthony DeCurtis, Present Tense, Duke University Press, 1992, pp. 24-27. ISBN 0-8223-1265-4.