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Lightnin' Sam Hopkins


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  • This recording is one of the best attempts to combine the eccentric blues structures of Houston's Lightnin' Hopkins with some kind of band backup. As blues idioms became more urbanized, the country bluesmen who were used to performing alone or in small acoustic combinations often experimented with recording with full bands, sometimes resulting in performances of such a lost nature that neither a compass nor a seeing-eye dog would be sufficient to get the group back on the same chord at the same time. The duets with drummer Spider Kilpatrick seemed a revelation at the time, as finally here was a musician who could follow Hopkins wherever he went, plus one providing a snappier beat that the guitarist could hang phrases of a bit more aggressive nature than usual on. These duets, of which two are included here, lose nothing of their brilliance with repeated listenings, and, of course, part of the endeavor's success is the absence of a bass player. A bassist actually does show up for four of the trio tracks, but these were instances where Hopkins took advantage of the group sound to play in a little bit different manner, and although these blues have a more set and normal blues structure, at least by Hopkins' standard, they work quite well and are recorded with quite a lot of impact. The bass is a bit low in the mix, probably intentionally. Something in the bridge of Hopkins' guitar makes one of his strings buzz like a sitar on these tracks, which might not have been intentional but certainly is a great effect. A bit of piano doodling and two beautifully intense guitar solos fill out the package. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
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