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Rock and Roll Blues

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Album Review

In the 1950s, Linda Hopkins recorded for several prominent independent R&B labels — including Savoy, Federal, and Atlantic — without getting a hit. She would never get a hit as a solo artist, in fact, though she did have a medium-sized charter with a 1963 duet with Jackie Wilson, "Shake a Hand." This 20-track compilation, however, concentrates solely on recordings she cut between 1951 and 1957. Like many performers, Hopkins slid from R&B toward rock & roll as the early '50s moved into the mid-'50s; unlike some of them, however, her style didn't seem all that well suited for the transition. On her eight 1951 sides for Savoy (half of them done with the Johnny Otis Orchestra) in particular, she sounds a little like a Bessie Smith/Billie Holiday-styled blues-jazz club vocalist getting shoehorned into the R&B era, an impression reinforced by the rather jazzy, mellow backing on numbers like "Doggin' Blues." Things were getting raucous even by 1953's "Get Off My Wagon," but nonetheless the lingering jazziness of both Hopkins' vocals and some of the traits in the arrangements were kind of awkward fits for the R&B audience to whom the songs were obviously targeted. Mickey Baker's guitar on her final Federal 45, 1956's "My Loving Baby," drags her into the rock & roll era somewhat, but the effect is undercut by a pretty ludicrous New Orleans-style solo of what sounds like a human voice trying to imitate a trumpet. Even more explicit moves toward rock were made in her 1957 Atco single "Shiver and Shake"/"Rock and Roll Blues." But it wasn't meant to be, in part because the material — both on this 45 in particular and throughout the songs on this CD as a whole — was far more average than Hopkins' strong, assertive voice.


Born: 09 November 1925 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: New Age

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '00s

An extremely versatile singer and performer with extensive stage credentials alongside her vocal skills, Linda Hopkins has been a major artist since the early '50s. She has recorded classic, traditional, and urban blues, done R&B and soul, jazz, and show tunes, all with distinction and style. Hopkins has long idolized Bessie Smith and won critical plaudits for her rendition of Smith in the theatrical presentation "Jazz Train." She has recorded for numerous labels since the '50s, but has only earned...
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Rock and Roll Blues, Linda Hopkins
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