Lightnin' Hopkins

The Best of Bluesville Recordings, Vol. 1

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Lightnin' Hopkins had a hard and fast approach to dealing with the abundance of record labels he recorded for during his career. The irascible bluesman would show up at the session in question but would refuse to play a note until he was paid his fee upfront. Once paid and satisfied, he'd unpack his stock set of boogie blues riffs and pretty much improvise songs on the spot until he'd fulfilled his agreed upon quota. Then he would leave. This system led to an awful lot of similarly constructed and executed throwaway tracks, but Hopkins had a special gift for personalizing the blues that came through in the best of these improvised songs, and a few gems always showed up in the process. Bluesville Records, a label set up in the early '60s as an outlet for some of the veteran blues players then being discovered (or rediscovered) in the wake of the urban folk revival, was one of Hopkins' first career stops in his rebuilt guise as a folk-blues master. Most of the sides presented on this collection were recorded in 1962 at Gold Star Studios in Houston, and most feature Hopkins in a solo acoustic setting. "Shinin' Moon," "Katie Mae" and the signature "Mojo Hand" are among the highlights here in what is a fairly typical Hopkins anthology. It isn't all that bad, it isn't all that good, but it's all Lightnin'.

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