Lightnin' Hopkins

Early Recordings, Vol. 1

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This is one of several collections put together from 78s recorded by Houston's Lightnin' Hopkins during the second half of the '40s. During this time he was a regular visitor at several studios with a regular jukebox market for his creations, and these are a really fine example of blues songs that are more like instant poetry that were concocted at the spur of the moment rather than slick, formalized, individualized song "hits." Much of the body of this blues artist's song catalog kind of runs together into a long odyssey, delivered in a rubato medium feel, sometimes locking into a steady beat but often hovering somewhere behind and ahead. As if performing an endless series of card tricks with only three cards, he comes up with variation after variation on the basic 12-bar form and a series of blues riffs that he has ready to fit any and all occasions. Listeners may not be able to tell one track from the next, but Hopkins' feel on guitar and charismatic, lilting voice has proven to be a winner with blues fans decade after decade. The ever adventuresome Hopkins cut some tracks on organ during this period, and these are parceled out among the collections. Although the resulting "Organ Boogie" certainly provides some variety, the songs with the guitar are of much more lasting music value, the organ numbers mostly of interest as an oddity.

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