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Lightnin’ Hopkins: Free Form Patterns

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Lightnin' Hopkins: Free Form Patterns
Still from the historic documentary: “The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins” Dir. Les Blank.

Free Form Patterns is also the first part (Disc One) of a three-cd set. Each disc is loaded with rippling guitar work and also, as important as the music, are the commentaries that spice up the music before almost all of the songs. Lightnin’ Hopkins also walks his accompanists through the often tricky melodic lines, correcting their chords, changing keys and – best of all – telling stories. Sometimes it’s hard to breathe for fear that the noise of the expelled air might disturb the magic of the music. However, Lightnin’ Hopkins turns on the charm and breaks the ice between the listener and the musicians. Hopkins also brings his unique “talking blues” to some of the music that flows on from the conversations. In many respects the music here presages the lineage of the cool in the manner in which some of the tones from the guitar of Lightnin’ Hopkins floats over the sound of the rhythm section as well as Bizor’s long, slurred notes. The music and the conversations become more intense on Disc Three with Lightnin’ Hopkins discussing issues of discrimination, drinking, the “Trouble in Crockett, Tx” and “Centerville, Tx” ending this historic re-issue with his unexpurgated views on “Politics”. The recorded sound balances detail and warmth. Put content and voiceovers from the legendary Lightnin’ Hopkins together with worthy engineering as well as detailed notes about each of the sessions, annotations and other invaluable commentary by Paul Drummond for Psy-Fi (cd package only), and you have both a vinyl and/or a cd package to die for.

Track List: Disc One – 1: Mr. Charlie; 2: Give Me Time To Think; 3: Fox Chase; 4: Mr. Ditta’s Grocery Store; 5: Open Up Your Door; 6: Baby Child; 7: Cooking’s Done; 8: I Got Her Letter This Morning (AKA: She’s Almost Dead); 9: Rain Falling; 10: Mini Skirt; 11: Black Ghost Blues. Disc Two – 1: Chat One – I’d Like To Get In Tune With The Boys; 2: Give Me Time To Think; 3: Chat Two – Harmonica Players; 4: Miniskirt; 5: Chat Three – Lelan: Is Billy A Hippy? 6: I Got Her Letter This Morning; 7: First Drinking Chat – No No, I Don’t Fool With Nothin’ But What I Fool With; 8: Mixed Up [Previously Unreleased]; 9: Chat Five – Band Direction / Billy; 10: (Mr. Dillon’s) Grocery Store Blues; 11: Chat Six – You Know Mr. Dillon? 12: Fox Chase False Starts / Band Direction; 13: Fox Chase; 14: Second Drinking Chat – I’m The Best Person In The World When I’m Drinking; 15: Lord Have Mercy [Previously Unreleased]; 16: Third Drinking Chat 8 – Don’t Think It Ain’t Got Something In It. Disc Three – 1: Rain Falling; 2: Chat Nine – Argument Over Songs; 3: Cooking’s Done; 4: Chat Ten – Sweet Lil’ Woman, But You Ain’t Got No Hair + Chat; 5: Mr Charlie; 6: Straw Hat [Previously Unreleased]; 7: Chat Eleven – They Got 100 Songs; 8: Green Onions [Previously Unreleased]; 9: Chat Twelve – Vietnam Song Snippet / Oh Oh Lyric; 10: Song/chat – Poppa Was A Preacher Rehearsal/chat; 11: Chat Thirteen – That Had The Feeling, Finishing Session; 12: Conversation One – Trouble In Crockett Tx; 13: Conversation Two – Whiskey On Prescription; 14: Conversation Three – Musician’s Hours: Tommy Hall / Stacy Sutherland; 15: Conversation Four – Where`d You Pick Up The Name Lightnin’; 16: Conversation Five – You Not Gonna Mess With Elmore (Nixon) Anymore? 17: Conversation Six – Centreville Tx; 18: Conversation Seven – Politics.

Personnel: Session #1: (8pm – 1am 3rd and 4th January 1968 – Sam “Lightnin” Hopkins: lead vocal and guitar; Billy Bizor: harmonica and lead vocals (Disc One – 3); Duke Davis: bass; Danny Thomas: drums; George “Wild Child” Butler: harmonica (presumably on all first take recordings, except where noted. Disc One – 2, 8, 10; Disc Two 6, 8, 10, 13; Disc Three – 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10). Session #2 (9th February, 1968): “Lightnin” Hopkins: lead vocal and guitar; Billy Bizor: lead vocal (Disc One – 6), and harmonica; Elmore Nixon: piano; Rhythm section unconfirmed, “but almost certainly” Denny Thomas and Duke Davis (since they recall working with Elmore Nixon (Disc One – 5, untitled “Name it later”, presumably “Black Ghost Blues [11]; 6 [both takes], 6 (takes one and two); She Ain’t Nothing But A Devil, presumably lost [The master for this session appears not to have survived); also the LP mixing and editing took place on the 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th and 21st and 22nd February. Safety masters: 1st March).

Label: Charly Records
Release date: January 2017
Running time: Lp and Disc One – 48:00 Disc Two – 46:00 Disc Three – 1:20:00
Buy album at: Charly Records

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