Acoustic Sounds
By: Michael Fremer

June 21st, 2024



Craft's Bluesville Series Announces Albert King's "Live Wire Blues Power" & Lightnin' Hopkins' "Last Night Blues"

All analog series in association with Acoustic Sounds curated by Scott Billington

Los Angeles, CA (June 20, 2024)—Craft Recordings and Bluesville Records proudly announce a pair of classic reissues from two of blues music’s most influential artists: Albert King’s career-defining 1968 concert album, Live Wire/Blues Power, and 1961’s poignant Last Night Blues from Lightnin’ Hopkins with Sonny Terry. Releasing September 13 and available to pre-order today, these titles mark the latest releases in the acclaimed new series, which celebrates America’s bedrock music genre, as well as the trailblazing musicians that contributed to its rich traditions.

As with all handpicked Bluesville titles, Live Wire/Blues Power and Last Night Blues will be released on vinyl in partnership with audiophile leader Acoustic Sounds. Delivering the highest-quality listening experience, the albums both feature all-analog mastering by GRAMMY®-nominated engineer Matthew Lutthans (The Mastering Lab) and are pressed on 180-gram vinyl at Quality Record Pressings (QRP). Faithfully reproduced tip-on jackets round the releases, while OBIs offer insightful new blurbs by GRAMMY®-winning producer, writer, musician and record executive Scott Billington.

Watch for an upcoming video interview on this site featuring Scott Billington

Additionally, both albums will be available on CD and digitally in stunning hi-res audio. Read more about each title below.

Lightnin’ Hopkins feat. Sonny Terry: Last Night Blues (1960)

Hailing from Houston, TX, Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins (1912–1982) was one of blues music’s most prolific artists, admired equally for his technical prowess on the guitar and his poeticism as a songwriter. His four-decade-long career, meanwhile, influenced generations of artists (Townes Van Zandt and Stevie Ray Vaughan, among them) and often found him collaborating with folk heroes, rock stars and countless fellow bluesmen, including the celebrated harmonicist Sonny Terry. Released in 1961 on Prestige Bluesville and recorded a year earlier, Last Night Blues marked the pair’s second of three albums together.

Recorded by legendary engineer Rudy Van Gelder, the acoustic album remains a gem in both artists’ catalogs. Accompanied by Leonard Gaskin (bass) and Belton Evans (drums), the stripped-down set is intimate and soulful, allowing the interplay between Hopkins and Terry to become the focus. Featuring seven originals by Hopkins, plus one composition written with Terry, the album includes such favorites as “Got to Move Your Baby,” the languid “Rocky Mountain and “Last Night Blues.”

 Speaking to Last Night Blues, Scott Billington notes, “Lightnin’s guitar playing and singing are simultaneously at their most passionate and relaxed. His striking lyrical imagery (‘You know the nightmares jumped on poor Lightnin’, they rolled me all night long/And I woke up not findin’ nothin’ but a dream/That’s why I'm singin’ this lonesome song’) is matched by his sure-handed and virtuosic guitar fills, and by Terry’s emotive harmonica. Their off-the-cuff and good-natured ‘Conversation Blues’ riffs on Terry’s sightlessness as Hopkins sings, ‘You know I only got two eyes and I’d offer you one. Now don’t you think well of me?’ It is a magical meeting of two of the greatest blues musicians.”

Acoustic Sounds’ Chad Kassem adds, “Lightnin’ is my absolute favorite blues musician. And here he is accompanied by another all-time great in harmonica man Sonny Terry. This is one of those albums where the sound matches the performances. There’s not a weak link in the chain. It gets my highest recommendation.”

 Click here to pre-order Last Night Blues and scroll down for the tracklist.

 Albert King: Live Wire/Blues Power (1968)

One of the most influential guitarists of all time, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Blues Hall of Fame inductee Albert King (1923–1992) ushered the genre into the modern era by combining his urgent Mississippi blues style with contemporary soul rhythms. Known for his smooth vocals and signature Flying V electric guitar, King continuously redefined the state of contemporary blues during his four-decade-long career through hits like “Born Under a Bad Sign,” “Crosscut Saw and I’ll Play the Blues for You.” Along the way, his guitar techniques informed axemen like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor and Warren Haynes, to name a few.

Recorded during a 1968 concert at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium and produced by drummer Al Jackson Jr. (of Booker T. & the M.G.’s fame) for release on Stax, Live Wire/Blues Power inspired many of the era’s rising guitar heroes, while it remains a definitive title in King’s catalog. Backed by a small rhythm section of guitar, electric organ, bass and drums, King’s prowess is on display in all of its glory as he blazes through original material (“Blues Power,” “Blues at Sunrise”), plus classic covers, including a spirited rendition of Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man.”

“If you never saw Albert King live in his prime, this is as close as you can possibly get,” declares Kassem. “And you’re gonna hear why he is considered one of the all-time best. It doesn’t get any better.”

Billington remarks, “Live Wire/Blues Power marked a pivotal moment not only in the guitarist’s career, but in the blues world at large,” adding that it served as “the introduction of the blues to the ‘flower power’ generation.” He continues, “King enthralls the young audience, while laying down his most extended guitar performances on record. His playing is powerful—twisting and turning over jaw-dropping stop-time breaks as he segues from one crescendo to the next.”

Click here to pre-order Live Wire/Blues Power and scroll down for the tracklist.

Bluesville Records, which launched in February with John Lee Hooker’s Burning Hell (1964) and Skip James’ Today! (1966), is intended to appeal to blues enthusiasts of all levels—from casual fans who are eager to learn more to long-time collectors and audiophiles. In addition to releasing foundational titles from such legendary labels as Stax, Prestige, Vee-Jay,Vanguard, Rounder and Riverside, Bluesville also seeks to elevate the legacies of the artists behind these albums, while honoring their immeasurable impact on modern music through a variety of initiatives, including curated playlists, in-depth editorial content, dedicated social media channels and much more. In June, Bluesville is celebrating Black Music Month with a variety of artist spotlights and accompanying playlists.