Lightnin' Hopkins

Rare Performances 1960-1979

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Running 58 minutes, this shows Lightnin' Hopkins in a variety of settings: public television spots, 1967 folklorist-supervised footage with no-frills camerawork, and at a Texas bar in 1960. Those 1960 clips (the first known film of Hopkins, taken by German filmmaker Dietrich Wawzyn) are especially interesting in that they find the bluesman in a Houston bar, playing to the casual approval of patrons from the neighborhood. This compilation isn't, to be frank, the most mesmerizing of blues videos, due to the pretty homogenous quality of Hopkins' tunes, which include both originals and some surprising covers, such as "Baby, Scratch My Back" and "What'd I Say." You do get to admire his dexterous fingerwork and hear him comment (not too succinctly) on the origins and motivations behind some of his songs, in the 1970 clips especially. The concluding four songs, taped for Austin City Limits in 1979, are the only electric full-band setups on the video, highlighted by his unexpectedly hard-hitting use of wah-wah guitar on occasion.