Friday, January 11, 2008

Lightnin' Hopkins - Lightnin' and the Blues

Initially recorded in 1954 and released in 1959, this album is surprisingly modern sounding blues and boogie. This is stripped down, though, even when Hopkins has players behind him, the sound is really all about his superb electric guitar tone and terrific, gravely voice.

To me, this sounds like an updated version of a lot of the solo, acoustic players from the 40’s, with the guitar plugged in, turned up, reverb set to high and with minimal accompaniment.

Lightnin’ isn’t a super flashy guitarist, but has a full tone and plenty of fine riffs that slink in and around the words and help him to tell his tales.

I’m reminded of a somewhat more complex John Lee Hooker and the hypnotic, trance-like grooves that Hooker creates are here – right down to occasionally hearing Hopkins’ foot stomping in time to the music! But there is a variety, it still sounds original, and it seems that Lightnin’ had a few more tricks and licks up his sleeve and wasn’t afraid to show them off!

Not as close to r’n’r as some of the other mid-to-late 50’s bluesmen, this is blues as we white folks grew up thinking of it – real, raw, emotional and wild! Great, great stuff!