Sam Hopkins was a Texas country bluesman of the highest caliber whose career began in the 1920s and stretched all the way into the 1980s. Along the way, Hopkins watched the genre change remarkably, but he never appreciably altered his mournful Lone Star sound, which translated onto both acoustic and electric guitar. Hopkins' nimble dexterity made intricate boogie riffs seem easy, and his fascinating penchant for improvising lyrics to fit whatever situation might arise made him a beloved blues troubadour…
Originally released as The Roots of Lightnin' Hopkins, Smithsonian/Folkways' Lightnin' Hopkins was recorded in 1959. Upon its initial release, it was a pivotal part of the blues revival and helped re-spark interest in Hopkins….
Recorded for Prestige's Bluesville subsidiary in 1960 and reissued on CD for Fantasy's Original Blues Classics (OBC) series in 1990, Lightnin' is among the rewarding acoustic dates Lightnin' Hopkins delivered in the early '60s. The session has an informal, relaxed quality, and this approach serves a 48-year-old Hopkins impressively well on both originals like "Thinkin' 'Bout an Old Friend" and the familiar "Katie Mae" and enjoyable interpretations of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee's "Back to New Orleans" and Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "Mean Old Frisco." Hopkins' only accompaniment consists of bassist Leonard Gaskin and drummer Belton Evans, both of whom play in an understated fashion and do their part to make this intimate setting successful. From the remorseful "Come Back Baby" to more lighthearted, fun numbers like "You Better Watch Yourself" and "Automobile Blues," Lightnin' is a lot like being in a small club with Hopkins as he shares his experiences, insights and humor with you. - Alex Henderson (AMG)
For the 1963 album Goin' Away, Lightnin' Hopkins was backed by a spare rhythm section – bassist Leonard Gaskin and drummer Herb Lovelle – who managed to follow his ramshackle, instinctual sense of rhythm quite dexterously, giving Hopkins' skeletal guitar playing some muscle. Still, the spotlight remains Hopkins, who is in fine form here. There are no real classics here, but everything is solid, particularly "Stranger Here" and "You Better Stop Her," making it worth investigation by serious fans of Hopkins' classic material.
A portrait of the great Texas bluesman, 'Lightnin' Hopkins. The film includes interviews and a performance by Hopkins.
Lightnin' Hopkins was back in his home base of Houston, Texas by 1959, all but forgotten. There he was rediscovered by folklorist Mack McCormick, who shifted Hopkins' image to that of an acoustic folk-blues performer, essentially igniting the flame for the rest of Hopkins' career. This four-disc set collects the acoustic sides the bluesman cut in his new incarnation in 1959 and 1960.