The "Collectables" reissue label is responsible for more than 15 entries to the 21st century Lightnin' Hopkins digital discography. These include a Hopkins sampler simply titled Blues; two volumes devoted to the high voltage Herald recordings of 1954; "The Lost Texas Tapes" (a sizeable archive of privately recorded material spread over five discs), and two compilations combining four albums from the mid-'60s originally issued on LPs as part of the "Everest Archive of Folk" series.
The Everest recordings were premiered on CD in 1990 as the "Golden Classics" set; this same collection reappeared with the more specific title "From the Vaults of Everest" in 2001. The albums, originally titled "Drinkin' in the Blues", "Prison Blues", "Mama and Papa Hopkins" and "Nothin' But the Blues", add up to 63 choice cuts, both solo and ensemble, recorded in the studio and live in coffeehouses.
Lightnin' strikes deep into the root strata of the tradition with "See See Rider," "Trouble in Mind" (à la Furry Lewis) and "When the Saints Go Marching In." He regularly taps into the rockin' boogie woogie vein, sounding a lot like Rev. Gary Davis during "Bottle It Up and Go," covering "What'd I Say" by Ray Charles and tearing up during "Get Off My Toe" and "Long Gone Like a Turkey Through the Corn." Caught in front of a live audience, he obviously enjoys kicking back and telling stories ("Big Black Cadillac Blues," "Big Car Blues"). This anthology contains the essence of Lightnin' Hopkins. It illuminates his links with the canon of classic blues ("I've Been Buked and Scorned" contains direct quotes from Blind Willie Johnson) and the rural Afro-American experience ("Cotton" directly references the life of backbreaking agricultural labor that Hopkins roundly rejected when he chose to become an itinerant musician.) .
Here´s Vol. 1 of the Everest Records, called "Drinkin´ In The Blues". Almost 70 minutes of Lightnin' Hopkins, some live (no date or location listed) and some studio, but all pretty well indispensable for any fan, from the first words of the extraordinary opening monologue ("Big Black Cadillac Blues") on. He's playing acoustic live, and this sounds like one of his coffeehouse gigs along the folk circuit from the early '60s, except that the quality is better than on many of those shows, with a close sound on the guitar - the studio stuff is electric, natch.
Lightnin Hopkins - Drinkin´ In The Blues
(192 kbps, small front cover included)