WORKING MAN'S BLUES is an excellent compilation of early recordings by the "Texas Twister" Johnny Copeland. Though he wouldn't make a name for himself until recording for Rounder in the 1980s, these recordings from the '60s prove that Copeland--only in his early 20s at the time--was already an impressive axe-slinger. Taking his cue from other local heroes like Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Albert Collins, Copeland possessed a raw, stinging style that fit firmly in the Texas six-string electric-blues tradition.
Copeland spent most of the '60s recording for small Texas labels (Golden Eagle, All Boy, Paradise), but the elements of his mature style were already in place. Copeland's ragged, appealing tenor carries tracks like "Down on Bending Knees" and "Please Let Me Know," while his fierce leads can be heard on cuts like "Mama Told Me." Interestingly, there is less emphasis on Copeland's guitar work here than on pop and R&B-influenced songcraft ("Heebie Jeebies" and "Your Game Is Working" resemble rock & roll radio hits). The comparative difference between these sides and Copeland's later work makes this set all the more appealing, and a fine early snapshot of one of Texas's best latter-day bluesmen.