jueves, 26 de noviembre de 2009

Linda Hopkins: Rock and Roll Blues - The Early Years of "The Kid" ... plus (1951-65)

An extremely versatile singer and performer with extensive stage credentials alongside her vocal skills, Linda Hopkins has been a major artist since the early '50s. She has recorded classic, traditional, and urban blues, done R&B and soul, jazz, and show tunes, all with distinction and style. In the '50s, Hopkins recorded for several prominent independent R&B labels - including Savoy, Federal, and Atlantic - without getting a hit. She would never get a hit as a solo artist, in fact, though she did have a medium-sized charter (# 42 pop, # 21 R&B) with a 1963 duet with Jackie Wilson, 'Shake a Hand.' This compilation, however, concentrates solely on recordings she cut between 1951 and 1957 (though I have extended it to 1965), including performances with bandleader Johnny Otis, tracks done with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, then rocking blues from Kansas City and New York - the latter featuring ace guitarist Mickey Baker - and rock 'n' roll sides from 1957 featuring drummer Panama Francis. Otis himself introduced Linda Hopkins to Herman Lubinsky, the owner of Savoy Record in Newark, NJ, and she was signed to Savoy, where she made her first blues recordings in 1951, 'Doggin' Blues' b/w 'Living and Loving You' and 'Warning Blues' b/w 'I'll Ask My Heart', backed by the Otis aggregation. She didn't stay long with Otis, however, and by 1953 she was recording with Leiber & Stoller for the small Forecast ('Is This Goodbye' b/w Get Off My Wagon) and Crystalette labels ('Three Time Loser' b/w 'Tears of Joy'). She did two sessions for Federal, in 1954 and 1956, resulting in three singles, produced by Ralph Bass. These included 'Come Back Baby' b/w 'I'm Going to Cry Right Out of Mind' and 'My Loving Baby' b/w 'I Can't.' Next came a stint at Atco, then still run by Herb Abramson, who produced 'Rock and Roll Blues' b/w 'Shiver and Shake,' in 1957. A long, moderately successful stay at Brunswick Records (1960-65) followed. Her first record for the label was 'I Diddie Dum Dum', recorded in 1960, a poppy, but catchy rock 'n' roll tune in the style of LaVern Baker. 'Happiness' b/w 'I Don't Know You Anymore' and 'My Mother's Eyes' b/w 'Mama's Doin' the Twist' followed in 1961 and 1962, respectively. A year later she recorded an entire LP of duets with Jackie Wilson, featuring the old Faye Adams hit. Her last releases for Brunswick were in 1964-65, including 'The Magic Song' and 'If You Walk Away.' Meanwhile, Linda had been taking acting lessons, and from the '70s onwards she concentrated more on acting, though she still made occasional recordings. She won awards for her performances in Broadway musicals in the '70s, and toured the USA and Europe with blues musical revues in the '80s, still performing and recording into the new century. I added as bonus tracks NINE of her Brunswick sides, including two duets with Jackie Wilson, 'Shake a Hand' and 'I Found Love'. http://www.rockabilly.nl, http://www.allmusic.com/
A young Linda Hopkins "rockin' the blues" in 1956:

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