Lightnin' Hopkins & Billy Bizor: Wake Up The Dead (1968-1969 (2-CD)
(2015/Cicadelic) 38 tracks.
Lightnin' Hopkins woke up The Dead when he played San Francisco in the 1960's and his song 'Wake Up The Dead' is the centerpiece of this two and a half hour journey into the electrified world of Texas blues. Accompanying Lightnin' on this journey is his long time harmonica player, Billy Bizor. While Lightnin' had a prolific recording career, Bizor's stature is relatively obscure due to the lack of solo recordings he released during his lifetime. Fortunately, 'Wake Up The Dead' seeks to rectify that situation by including the complete June 17, 1968 session with Lightnin' and Bizor, plus all of Bizors' 1969 solo recordings. As an added bonus, some tracks of the April 11, 1969 session are included. The highlight of this session is the nine minutes of outtakes of 'Mojo Hand'. Never before have the complete tapes from all the aforementioned sessions been released until now. Furthermore, the tapes have been remixed from the original three and four track masters to accentuate the magical chemistry between Lightnin' and Bizor.
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Lightnin' Hopkins is many people's idea of what a blues-singer should be : an endlessly inventive folk-poet, whose imagination is touched by almost everything but whose sing-ing and playing express nothing but the blues. And this, despite nearly 30 years of performing and recording, and all the pressures that might have made him something else, he unswervingly has been. But he has not, outside his own com-munity, been very obviously influential on either American or British rock; his blues, sung by others, are not self-sustaining, as many of the Chicagoans' are.
His early recordings, in the Forties and Fifties, were characterised by thunderous amplification - as any number of reissues demonstrate - but his first ventures into a different market, with acoustic guitar, compensate in subtlety for what they lose in force (e.g. the Folkways and some Bluesville albums). Later sessions placed him with accompanying groups, rarely successfully, though his album for Jewel is an exception.
Through all these records he balances slow blues with vivid boogies, occasionally leaving his guitar to essay an idiosyncratic piano style. Born in Centerville, Texas, in 1912, he spent most of his life in Houston, and his refusal to extract himself from that milieu is the chief reason for his undiminished authenticity as an observer, through the blues, of black life.