Lightnin' Hopkins

The Best of Lightnin' Hopkins [Master Classic]

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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett

Lightnin' Hopkins had a kit bag of slow blues riffs, a talent for improvising up-to-the-minute lyrics to go with them, and a general distrust of the recording industry that kept him bouncing from label to label for one-off albums in which he always made sure he got his money upfront before he played a note. This has led to a licensing bonanza that has seen the same Hopkins tracks appear over and over again on countless similar collections with dozens of different titles. Best of Lightnin' Hopkins is hardly the best this Texas bluesman recorded, but it includes all nine original tracks from a 1960 session for Bobby Robinson's Fire Records that were eventually released as Mojo Hand, plus additional tracks that Robinson held back at the time. Among the highlights are "Mojo Hand," a riveting Christmas blues called "Santa," and the movingly poetic "Shine on, Moon." There's nothing too startling, but the spare, ragged arrangements (usually just Hopkins on acoustic guitar, occasionally accompanied by a drummer) allow Hopkins plenty of room to do what he does.

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