LIGHTNIN' HOPKINS (vinyl LP)
Doxy (DOY671LP )
Penitentiary Blues, Bad Luck And Trouble, Come Go Home With Me, Trouble Stay ‘Way From My Door, See That My Grave Is Kept Clean, Goin' Back To Florida, Reminiscenses Of Blind Lemon, Fan It, Tell Me Baby, She's Mine.
The re-release of Lightnin's rediscovery album, recorded by Sam Charters in Houston in 1959 when Lightnin' was down on his luck and had to be found and coaxed back into playing (as Charters tells it, Lightnin' didn't even have a guitar to hand at the time). Thankfully he relented to the pressure that Charters exerted on him (the whiskey and the money helped) and came up with these historic recordings that re-invigorated his recording career and allowed him to join in, and contribute to, the burgeoning folk and blues boom that would lead on to bigger and greater things.
The historicity of these recordings notwithstanding, these compelling and driven performances, to these ears, still stand as Lightnin' at his very best. Just Hopkins and Charters in a living room, with a guitar, a bottle of whiskey and a tape recorder - and the emotional sparks flew.
After running through superb versions of the traditional Penitentiary Blues and Blind Lemon Jefferson's See That My Grave Is Kept Clean, Lightnin' also set down some semi-improvised and half-remembered songs of his own. Bad Luck And Trouble, Trouble Stay ‘Way From My Door and Tell Me Baby are particularly strong examples of Lightnin's unique and expressive voice, while Fan It and She's Mine evidence his lighter, more playful side. The session concluded with some brief chat between the two, a portion of which is included here as Lightnin' recalled his dealings with Blind Lemon.
Not a very long album (certainly not by the standards of the CD generation), but a compelling insight into the character of this major bluesman that deserves to be heard. This album has been available for quite a while on CD (Smithsonian Folkways SFWCD40019) but not for ages on LP and this deluxe 180g edition is just the ticket for lovers of gorgeous vinyl.
And, what's more, the UK distributors of this Italian label are looking to bring in a lot more vinyl in the series, featuring a host of blues artists from the 1920s and 1930. Needless to say, we intend to stock these so keep an eye on future catalogues and release sheets for further information.
Review Date: August 2012