Dienstag, 5. Januar 2016

Lightnin' Hopkins & the Blues Summit

It's surely a sign of blues mastery: you sit down with your guitar, open your mouth, and the blues comes out. That's the impression one gains from this recording, made in 1960 and, incredibly, never issued, except piecemeal on albums by some of the artists involved. Now at last, here's the whole thing, featuring improvisatory riffs - the whole recording is ostensibly off the cuff and unrehearsed, which, given the talent involved, isn't hard to believe - from Lightnin' Hopkins, Big Joe Williams, and dynamic duo Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. Just getting these four in the same room is something of an achievement, given the temperaments and busy careers involved, but any blues fan would admit that the results are worth it. Though they're admittedly pretty rough cuts, they're also heartfelt, enthusiastic, and overwhelmingly genuine, with the kind of musical intimacy that comes from sitting around and playing whatever's on your mind--and you're a good enough musician that what comes out is worth hearing. --Genevieve Williams

An official issue of a much bootlegged studio and live session, "Lightnin' Hopkins & the Blues Summit" was recorded in Los Angeles on July 6, 1960. Along with Hopkins, in town at the behest of John Lomax Jr., the participants were Big Joe Williams, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee, who were all completing a residency at the Ash Grove nightclub.

The first half of the album is a well-lubricated studio jam session, while the even wilder second half takes place at the Ash Grove later that night. Like most straight jam sessions, this is loose to the point of messiness most of the time, with every song but one running well past the five-minute mark, with the foursome trading choruses and solos seemingly at random.

Frankly, the whole thing sounds like it's on the verge of collapse three-quarters of the time, which makes moments like the sharp interplay of Terry's harp and Hopkins' finger-picked acoustic in the middle of a rave-up version of "Blues for Gamblers" that much more impressive. However, newcomers to these artists should probably start elsewhere; this is strictly for fans.   - allmusic.com

In 1960 World Pacific Records, once an important jazz label, put four of the great blues masters - Lightnin' Hopkins, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and Big Joe Williams - together with many bottles of whisky in a sound studio, turned on the Ampex tape decks, got out of the way and let the men jam. Afterwards, about half of the tracks available on this new CD were released on the classic but often elusive World Pacific 1298. The recording needs no new rave notices. Such bellwether critics of the time as Leonard Feather and Nat Hentoff already gave it the ultimate canonization it deserves those 41 years ago. There's nothing to add to the praise. No collection of basically acoustic black blues is anywhere near complete without this masterpiece. Several of the cuts that weren't on WP 1298 have been reissued on various albums by the individual artists, but this is the biggest single assembly out of the sessions ever. The Ampexes supposedly wound World Pacific's tapes for several hours on end, so this release too is only a selection, but the biggest yet. The sound quality is superlative, which one came to expect from World Pacific even in 1960. The music - fully improvised, totally jammed bragging dirty blues. Titles like "Wimmen From Coast to Coast" and "You Can Steal My Chickens But You Can't Make My Hens Lay" say it all.  - Mark Oliva


       1. Ain't Nothin' Like Whiskey
2. Penitentiary Blues
3. If You Steal My Chickens, You Can't Make 'Em Lay
4. First Meeting
5. How Long Have It Been Since You Been Home?
6. Wimmin From Coast to Coast
7. Right on That Shore
8. Early Morning Blues (aka Chain Gang Blues)
9. Blues for Gamblers
10. I've Been Buked and I've Been Scorned
11. Brand New Car (aka New Car Blues)

Lightnin' Hopkins & the Blues Summit    
(320 kbps, front cover included)

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