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Album Review

Lightnin' Hopkins had a hard and fast approach to dealing with the abundance of record labels he recorded for during his career. The irascible bluesman would show up at the session in question but would refuse to play a note until he was paid his fee up-front. Once paid and satisfied, he'd unpack his stock set of boogie blues riffs and pretty much improvise songs on the spot until he'd fulfilled his agreed-upon quota. Then he would leave. This system led to a bloated discography full of similarly constructed and executed throwaway tracks, but Hopkins had a gift for personalizing the blues that came to the fore in the best of these improvised songs, and some gems often showed up in the process. This set proves the point that any Lightnin' is better than no Lightnin'.


Born: November 30, 1915 in Knoxville, TN

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Brownie McGhee's death in 1996 was an enormous loss in the blues field. Although he had been semi-retired and suffering from stomach cancer, the guitarist was still the leading Piedmont-style bluesman on the planet, venerated worldwide for his prolific activities both on his own and with his longtime partner, blind harpist Sonny Terry. Together, McGhee and Terry worked for decades in an acoustic folk-blues bag, singing ancient ditties like "John Henry" and "Pick a Bale of Cotton" for appreciative...
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