While it's probably impossible to fully pin down a best-of from a man who constantly reinvented his own songs, it's only fitting that Arhoolie release this, since Lightnin' Hopkins (or Lightning Hopkins, as he's called here) was the inspiration for Chris Strachwitz to start his label. And while ten of the cuts are culled from Hopkins' Arhoolie recordings, Strachwitz has dug deeper, going back to the bluesman's seminal cuts for the Texas-based Gold Star label in the late '40s, making this a fine career cross-section. Hopkins was the link between the old and the new Texas blues, a man who'd played with the great Blind Lemon Jefferson before going on to influence a generation after his rediscovery in Houston in the late '50s. And while older solo pieces like "Whiskey Blues" and "Grosebeck Blues" seemingly have their roots in the '20s, Hopkins is equally comfortable with a band, as on the riotous "Bald Headed Woman." However, the later material seems geared for his new white audience, unlike the earlier raw juke joint pieces. But Hopkins was a master improviser (much like Bukka White) who could change a lyric on a whim to put across what was on his mind -- meaning there was rarely a definitive performance of any song, however high a standard he maintained. But there was also a strain of protest, whether on "Tim Moore's Farm" or the later "Please Settle in Vietnam," that kept his work topical. And, as an interesting aside, "Zolo Go" might be the very first recorded piece of modern zydeco, with Hopkins on organ attempting what his cousin, Clifton Chenier, would later do so successfully.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson