Lightnin' Hopkins

Straight Blues

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A grab bag of early-'60s Hopkins, four of the songs recorded solo in a Houston studio in July 1961, two recorded with bass and drums in New York in May 1964, and the other six recorded live as a solo in New York in December 1964. These were originally released on the following Prestige/Bluesville LPs: the 1961 cuts on Walkin' This Road by Myself, the two New York band songs on Down Home Blues, and the live New York tracks on My Life in the Blues. For a while this compilation was only available on CD as part of the seven-CD boxed set Lightnin' Hopkins: The Complete Prestige/Bluesville Recordings; in 1999, it was issued as a separate CD. So those on the lookout for this will probably be either gap-fillers, or listeners who are rather indiscriminate about which Hopkins releases to pluck from his large discography. The music itself is OK. Hopkins plays good country blues on the 1961 numbers, particularly on "Baby Don't You Tear My Clothes" and his interpretation of "Good Morning Little School Girl." The two 1964 band efforts are pretty good spare electric blues, whether "I Like to Boogie" or the more unusual "Get It Straight," which gets rather close to country music in its rhythms and guitar work. The half-dozen live New York songs are typical Hopkins' performances, incorporating both narrative folky tunes with spoken introductions, and livelier boogies.

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