Lightnin’ Hopkins: guitar, vocals
Leonard Gaskin: bass
Herbie Lovelle: drums
I bought this album probably 20 years ago or so. The 17 tracks comprise a great representation of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ work, and offer a fine mix of warm blues ballads and groovy boogies. The total playing time is 76:01 minutes and because the maximum playing time of a single CD could not accommodate the entire length of the original double album release, the introduction has been deleted. Which is kind of sad because on the original Lightnin’ talks about how he made his first record and how he got his name.
All tunes were recorded on May 4-5, 1964.
Before I forget to mention this: the recording quality is absolutely amazing which is fantastic because it really captures his unique guitar sound – even though you can hear that is taken off of the original vinyl recording.
He’s one of the guys with a very distinct kind of playing, his guitar has this warm but almost haunting “metallic” tone – you just always know when it’s him playing, I guess that’s what I wanted to say.
Here’s an overview of all the tracks:
1. Let’s go sit on the lawn, 4:16
2. I’m taking a devil of a chance, 3:55
3. I got tired, 4:37
4. I asked the bossman, 6:43
5. Just a wristwatch on my arm, 3:37
6. I woke up this morning, 5:53
7. I was on standing 75 Highway, 5:10
8. I’m going to build me a heaven of my own, 5:55
9. My babe, 3:20
10. Too many drivers, 3:30
11. I’m a crawling black snake, 4:50
12. Rocky Mountain Blues, 3:50
13. I mean good-bye, 3:00
14. The howling wolf, 3:53
15. Black ghost blues, 3:30
16. Darling, do you remember me? 3:40
17. Lonesome graveyard 5:30
It is very hard to pick any favorites here. But if I absolutely had to come up with three tunes, I’d probably go for “I was standing on 75 highway”, “I mean good-bye” and “Lonesome graveyard” – I must admit though that I haven’t listened to this album for along time, so if you ask me in two weeks again, I might change my mind on that. The good thing is, I don’t have to pick favorites ;-).
The booklet features a brilliant write-up by renowned Rolling Stone Magazine writer and editor Grover Lewis. In addition to that, there’s a short summary on Sam Lightning’ Hopkins’ life:
Born in Texas and weaned on the music of Blind Lemon Jefferson and his cousin Texas Alexander, Lightnin’ Hopkins personified country blues. Working primarily as a street singer, he preferred to stay in Houston and it wasn’t until 1960 that he made major excursions from that city to perform in concerts throughout the United States. Whether he sings of work on a chain gang or a wayward relationship with a lady, one characteristic above all others imbues his music – the truth.
In sum: Lightin’ Hopkins – Double Blues is an excellent album in my opinion. It doesn’t matter whether you are new to his work, because it will give you a good idea of his style, or whether you are a fan already, because it will just add a must have piece to your collection. As for me, this CD will go straight into my car for the next few weeks as I have catch up work to do. Shame on me that is was sitting on the shelf for such a long time.
The CD is available via the Guitarshop for very little money, so if you don’t have it already, do yourself a favor – it’s worth it, I promise.