The Best of Lightnin' Hopkins

Prestige PRCD-5711-2

Lightnin' Hopkins, vocals and guitar; Leonard Gaskin and Donald Cooks, bass; Belton Evans, Spider Kilpatrick and Herbie Lovelle, drums; Buster Pickens, piano; Billy Bizor, vocal and harmonica (on cut #4)

Lightnin' Hopkins was instrumental in the formation of Texas rural blues who became the toast of the folk music community late in his career. This compilation covers various sessions recorded during 1960 and 1964 and was remastered by Joe Tarantino in 2004 at Fantasy Studios. Most of these tunes were composed by Hopkins and reflect his personal style of creating lyrics from life experience and recent events that might have happened in his daily life.

On the first cut, Hopkins covers the Big Joe Williams composition "Back To New Orleans" with a countrified talking vocal style and shuffle guitar picking treatment. "You Is One Black Rat" features Hopkins on unaccompanied vocals and guitar in this tale of vengeance. On "Mojo Hand" Hopkins punctuates the lyrics with a cording effect on the guitar. On "Last Night Blues" there is a beautifully sensitive harmonica accompaniment which is attributed to Sonny Terry in the liner notes. On the tune, "Blues In The Bottle," Hopkins displays a deep soulful vocal style that reflects the misery of the loss of his woman. The tune composed by Hopkins in tribute to the astronaut landing, "Happy Blues For John Glenn," is included here.

Hopkins displays a spare vocal style that is clean and clear throughout this offering. This sixteen track CD gives a vivid imagery of rural blues that is incomparable for lovers of the genre. Lighnin' Hopkins was a master of painting the picture and this is another good example of that portraiture to savor.

by Dorothy L. Hill

Jazz Now Interactive November 2004 Vol 14 No. 7 - Table of Contents

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