Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Lightnin' Hopkins

  • Blues Masters: The Very Best of Lightnin' Hopkins [Rhino, 2000] A-
  • Blues Kingpins [Virgin/The Right Stuff, 2003]  

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Blues Masters: The Very Best of Lightnin' Hopkins [Rhino, 2000]
His juke-joint records long out of juice, Hopkins unplugged because he saw money in folk music. Like a quality gangsta rapper, he was cold, wry, and into his own pain, a ruminative cuss who moved white fans to rave about improvisation as they worshipfully awaited whatever bullshit came out of his mouth. Of this there was way too much--he recorded more than John Lee Hooker, who unlike Hopkins had a beat. That said, Rhino's selection of 16 1947-1961 tracks from nine labels is the solidest album ever to bear his name. Usually there's accompaniment, bass at least, but Hopkins's phrasing is so wayward that the effect is country anyway. Winnowed down to these memorable performances, he's thoughtful and soulful, evocative and surprising--the back-porch poet of folk dreams. A-

Blues Kingpins [Virgin/The Right Stuff, 2003]
See: Recyclables.  

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