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Lightnin’ Hopkins – The Great Electric Show and Dance (1970)

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Lightnin’ Hopkins – The Great Electric Show and Dance (1970)

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01. Lovin' Arms 4:21 02. Rock Me Mama 4:59 03. Mr. Charlie (Part 1) 1:29 04. Mr. Charlie (Part 2) 2:36 05. Play With Your Poodle 1:26 06. You're Too Fast 3:48 07. Love Me This Morning 3:26 08. I'm Coming Home 6:00 09. Ride in Your New Automobile 4:14 10. Breakfast Time 3:13 + 11. Mr. Charlie Parts 1 & 2 (alt. mix) 5:01 12. Play With Your Poodle (alt. mix) 2:01 13. My Daddy Was A Preacher (Unissued) 4:08 14. Letter To My Back Door Friend (Unissued) 3:55 15. Huntin' In The Mornin' (Unissued) 3:25 16. I'm Comin' Home (alt. mix)n 2:52 17. Ride In Your New Automobile (alt. mix) 4:13 18. A Death In The Family (Unissued) 5:19
Lightnin' Hopkins - guitar, vocals

 

The concept of loyalty to a record company was a foreign one to Lightnin' Hopkins. He preferred to be paid up front at recording sessions, and once he had money in hand, he would roll out his stock set of boogie and shuffle rhythms and proceed to half improvise over the top of them until he had delivered the allotted number of songs, then he was gone, money in pocket, into the night. Hopkins had a somewhat more lasting association with Stan Lewis' Louisiana-based Jewel Records, though, and he provided Lewis with several albums worth of material in the '60s, including this odd set from 1969. Rumor has it that the sessions for The Great Electric Show and Dance took place in Muscle Shoals, AL (Hopkins generally preferred to record closer to home in Texas) with a crack soul band of Eddie Hinton on guitar, Barry Beckett on keyboards, David Hood on bass and Roger Hawkins on drums (an unnamed harmonica player was also obviously present). These guys had been part of some of the biggest soul hits of the '60s, so there was every reason to expect something special from the Hopkins session. What resulted may have been singular, but it certainly wasn't particularly special. It was mostly awful. Hopkins had a notoriously eccentric sense of timing and rhythm and what these tracks reveal is a thoroughly professional band struggling to make heads or tails out of Hopkins' abrupt, seemingly random chord changes and tendency to elongate or shorten sung lines at will. Nothing really congeals as the band chases the baffling and elusive Hopkins from cut to cut, occasionally locking in, only to have Hopkins veer off into new rhythmic directions that apparently only he could anticipate. It's fascinating in a way, a bit like watching blind drunks navigate home from the bar at closing time, each one on roller skates and with a firmly held but completely different idea about longitude and latitude. No one really wins here, not Hopkins, not the band, and certainly not anyone listening to it, making this an album only dead serious Lightnin' Hopkins collectors should seek to find. ---Steve Leggett, allmusic.com

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