Recording information: Commercial Studios, Houston, TX (11/09/1946-02/25/1948); Quinn Studio, Houston, TX (11/09/1946-02/25/1948); Radio Recorders, Hollywood, CA (11/09/1946-02/25/1948); Radio Records, L.A., CA (11/09/1946-02/25/1948).
Photographer: Geoff Spear.
THE COMPLETE ALADDIN RECORDINGS collects all 43 of Lightnin' Hopkins' tracks for Aladdin, a Los Angeles-based label that was the first to record the legendary Texas bluesman. One might be amazed at how fully developed Hopkins' art appears here, until one realizes that he was already 35 years old and a fully developed musician in 1947, when the first of these sessions took place. From the very first cut, the now standard "Katie May," Hopkins' confidence and mastery are apparent throughout this essential two-disc set.
Hopkins recorded four sessions for Aladdin, two with a small ensemble and two later sessions as a solo performer. The ensemble recordings, which fill the first half of the first disc, are raw, gritty, and sensual: in other words, rock & roll for adults. "Short Haired Woman" and "Let Me Play With Your Poodle" are among the highlights. The latter portion of this set features Hopkins alone, a setting that shows off both his guitar prowess and his haunting vocals. "Shotgun" and "Abeline" are among the R&B hits recorded at these sessions. This set is a must for blues devotees. Newcomers to the genre might prefer MOJO HAND, a career retrospective on Rhino Records.