Sam “Lightning” Hopkins - vocals & guitar
Francis Clay ‚ drums (#1-16), on #2 add Jeff Carp ‚ harmonica, Moose Walker ‚ piano, Paul Asbell ‚ guitar, and Geno Skaggs ‚ bass. Recorded in Berkeley, CA 5/20/69.
#17-20: Lightning alone, recorded Houston, Tx., 12/18/67.
#s 1-16 previously released on Poppy and Tomato Records. #s 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, & 12 previously released on Arhoolie LP 1087. #s 5, 6, 7, & 8 previously released on Arhoolie LP 1063. #s 17‚20 previously released on Arhoolie LP 1034.
1. Mojo Hand
2. Rock Me Baby
3. Hello Central
4. Ain't It Crazy
5. Little and Low
6. Hold Up Your Head
7. Good Times Here, Better Down the Road
8. Annie's Boogie
9. My Starter Won't Start This Morning
10. One Kind Favor I Ask of You
11. Little Girl
12. Baby Please Don't Go
13. What'd I Say?
14. I Hear You Calling Me
15. Trouble in Mind
16. Come On Baby
17. At Home Blues
18. Take a Walk
19. Little Antoinette
20. Cut Me Out Baby
“Blues legend Sam `Lightning' Hopkins recorded prolifically from the '50s-up till his death in 1982, leaving behind a huge body of country and electric blues material of varying quality that has been issued on nearly a hundred CDs by a variety of labels. As a result, exploring Hopkins' music for gems can be a daunting task, but this new release from the excellent `roots' label Arhoolie is 60-plus minutes of blues magic. `Lightnin'!' may be the best electric blues material Hopkins ever recorded and is certainly one of the best blues packages of 1993. This CD reintroduces material recorded in 1969 for Tomato Records that had been buried for years by legal entanglement. The studio musicians assembled for these recordings follow Hopkins' instincts remarkably well, creating a powerful synergy. Hopkins' emotions are as tightly focused as his guitar playing throughout. This is an essential recording for both serious blues collectors and casual blues fans.”
(Neal McGarity — The Montgomery Express)
“This is a twin LP package of twenty tracks [now on this CD] by the great blues singer and guitarist and includes many of his older classics, as well as a lot of new material. It is excellently recorded and is one of the best blues packages of the year.”
(Ralph J. Gleason — Rolling Stone)
“Lightnin' Hopkins may have made more records than any other bluesman and, with a few exceptions, those records were remarkably consistent. There were peaks and valleys, but the general form remained the same: a solid rhythmic accompaniment in E or A, broken by bright, fierce guitar runs and that amazing voice.
Hopkins always sounds relaxed, sometimes almost asleep, but with an underlying edge that goes right to the heart and gut. He invites comparison with John Lee Hooker, that other master of the dark, brooding vocal, but his guitar work has a sophistication that Hooker's lacks, and his tunes stay closer to the standard 12-bar framework (although in Hopkins's hands that could shrink to 11 or stretch to 13 1/2 bars).
Hopkins had an endless ability to improvise new songs, but he had a few favorites that he came back to again and again. Virtually all those favorites are here, played by Hopkins either solo or with a drummer nailing down the rhythm, and on one track with a full band. Hopkins plays his acoustic guitar through a magnetic pickup and amplifier, giving his playing a bite and sustain that his pure acoustic recordings lack. All together, this makes for a real `best of' set, probably the best single CD available of this great artist.
Drummer Francis Clay, though listed on 16 tracks, appears on only bout half of them. On classics like his trademark `Baby, Please Don't Go,' his reinvention of Ray Charles' `What'd I Say,' and the humorous boogie romp, `Ain't It Crazy,' Hopkins appears solo, allowing free rein to his unique sense of pacing and dynamics. When the drums do come in, on a driving `Mojo Hand' and a fine version of `See That My Grave Is Kept Clean' (here called `One Kind Favor I Ask Of You'), Hopkins takes advantage of their presence to extend his high note runs, leaving Clay to hold down the rhythm.
The one band cut, `Rock Me Baby,' shows Hopkins flawlessly adopting the Muddy Waters Mississippi/Chicago sound, with results Waters must have admired. For lagniappe, one cut, `I Hear You Calling Me,' gives an extremely rare glimpse of Hopkins playing slide. Hopkins was one of the true greats, a master artist whose work transcended the blues genre, and this album is an unmatched sampler of his music.”
(Elijah Wald — SingOut!)