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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 9 March 2011
This is as fine a selection of Hopkins work as has ever seen the light of day in one place, and in many ways it surpasses everything else. The tracks werer selected as a soundtrack as it were, to Alan Governar's monumental biography of Hopkins and the quality of the material on these two CD's dovetail's perfectly with Governars's seminal work.Those familiar with Lightnin's music will be aware that he worked with a limited palette, yet despite this he manages to make every note count. Every oft-repeated riff gets it's own special treatment from track to track, and Hopkins here shows a grasp of dynamics that can sometimes surprise. On this two CD set one encounters pretty much all the rock n' roll phrases that later became the bedrock on which the genre was built, but Lightnin' more or less played 'em all first and they're here, though in a blues setting. Here we have the expressive, pleading, heart-wrenching country blues that tells the story of a world within a world, the world of the black man as underdog, as second-class citizen, but also this is the blues as good time dance music, as black pop music even, albeit a music that is always umbilically connected to what we have come to understand as blues, especially country blues. What may come as a surprise to many is that Lightnin' was primarily an electric player and an early adopter of the electric instrument. Much of what is on show here is amplified guitar, though there are acoustic tracks too. The combination of punchy guitar lines and Lightnin's warm gritty voice - one of the greatest blues voices - make this one of the all-time great blues albums to have. Despite a number of well-known earlier blues artists, this is largely where it all begins and helps to make sense of what came later.
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