Lightnin' Hopkins - In The Key Of Lightnin' (2002)

Lightnin' Hopkins - In The Key Of Lightnin' (2002)
Artist: Lightnin' Hopkins
Title: In The Key Of Lightnin' (2002)
Year Of Release: 2002
Label: The Tomato Music Works
Genre: Texas Blues
Quality: 320 kbps
Total Time: 43:42
Total Size: 136 MB

1. Lightnin' Declares (0:20)
2. Cryin' Shame (Shake That Thing) (2:32)
3. Last Night I Lost The Best Friend I Ever Had (2:53)
4. Baby, Please Lend Me Your Love (3:14)
5. Short Haired Woman Discourse (0:28)
6. Short Haired Woman (3:27)
7. Cigar Chatter (0:41)
8. Pneumonia Blues (2:42)
9. What'd I Say (2:33)
10. Katie Mae (6:38)
11. Black Cadillac (3:03)
12. One For The Gamblin' (3:45)
13. I Gave Up Card Playin' (0:28)
14. I Once Was A Gambler (1:45)
15. Where Did You Stay Last Night? (3:46)
16. Careless Love (1:59)
17. Black Lightnin' Rap (0:30)
18. Lightnin' Slow Blues (2:49)

Lightnin' Hopkins was one of Chris Strackwitz' early discoveries as he was forming the Arhoolie label in Berkeley in late fifties. Strackwitz has played a crucial role, along with Sam Charters and Mack McCormick, in re-launching Hopkins' career by recording and releasing several sessions on his Arhoolie label. For this May 1969 session, Strachwitz lined up Francis Clay, a drummer from the Bay Area with a long musical career. Joining Hopkins and Clay for a few tracks are piano player Big Moose Walker, harmonica player Jeff Carp, guitarist Paul Asbell and bassist Geno Scaggs. 16 of the songs they recorded for a double lp were released as Lightnin' on the Poppy imprint in October 1969 (and reissued by Arhoolie in 1993). The other songs from this marathon session were put aside for a subsequent release, but we had to wait for decades to hear these other tracks of prime Lightnin' Hopkins, all previously unreleased. Lightnin' Hopkins was very peculiar in terms of time signatures and keys, and these peculiarities often proved baffling for backing musicians. At one point somebody in the band said, "What f** key are we in?" and Hopkins responded, "We're in the key of Lightnin'!". Hence the title of this album.

Lightnin's life is a how-to book of the blues: jumping freight trains in the 20s, a short stint on a prison farm in the 30s, and recording the blues after World War II. The 50s brought him to wider audiences and the beginnings of the folk music movement, and by the time Strackwitz recorded these sides in Berkeley, Lightnin' received the respect of folk artists Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, sharing the stage at festivals with them. Lightnin's been gone over decades now, but the crisp and clean production sounds like he's playing just across the room. I enjoyed the playful banter about short-haired women, cigars, and gambling that's inserted here and there on the disc as these between-take remarks show us the humorous side of Lightnin' Hopkins. Get in key, In the Key of Lightnin!

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