What you get with any Lightnin' Hopkins album is Lightnin', which means a kit bag of his standard slow, medium, and fast Texas blues shuffles with half-improvised lyrics laid over the top, occasionally done with a band, but usually not, and when he is accompanied, the band employed spends most of said tunes trying to figure out just where the turnarounds are going to happen, a nearly impossible to comprehend situation when what you're playing is the blues, which is hardly a genre known for its unpredictability. The upside is that when Lightnin' was on his game, his songs became brilliant personal statements that bridged the old country blues form with modern sentiment. The downside? It all begins to sound like one big song after a while, all spun over the same old rhythms. This set does an admirable job of picking through Hopkins' extensive early catalog (and early on in his recording career is when Hopkins sounds the freshest and most vital), and includes true essentials like his very first recording, "Katie Mae," cut in 1946 in L.A. for Aladdin Records with Wilson "Thunder" Smith sitting in on piano; the fiery "Tim Moore's Farm," done in 1949 for Modern Records; and several other keepers like "Sugar on My Mind" and "Shining Moon." It all makes for a best-case introductory package to this irascible blues artist.
AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett