Lightnin’ Hopkins is arguably the greatest Texas blues star of the 1960s era. A country bluesman of the highest caliber, his career began in the 1920s and stretched all the way into the 1980s. Along the way, Hopkins watched the genre change remarkably, but he never altered his mournful Lone Star sound, which translated onto both acoustic and electric guitar. His style, strong rhythms punctuated by his flowing but compact lead lines, created a stinging and heart-tearing evocative sound.
The Jam's enduring, eternal popularity in the U.K. meant an ever-increasing number of archival releases that cropped up over the years, with Live Jam, a fine counterpart to the other official concert album, Dig the New Breed, turning up in 1993. Like that earlier effort, it draws together a slew of tracks from shows ranging from 1979 to 1982, including some cuts from the band's almost-farewell headlining bows at Wembley Arena. Quite happily, there's no track overlap at all with Dig the New Breed, making the two perfectly complementary recordings in ways. The real treat, thanks to the expanded space on CDs, is the inclusion of nine songs from two December 1979 shows in London, the best portrait of what an actual specific show must have been like. A masterful rampage through "Down at the Tube Station at Midnight" is well worth the entire disc, but takes on "Billy Hunt," "Mr. Clean," and "Away From the Numbers" are also high up there, the threesome making enough righteous but tuneful noise for a band three times its size. Two stand-alone cuts from separate shows had to be included just because they were so clearly awesome – a strong "The Eton Rifles" and an absolutely spectacular "Strange Town" that completely blows the socks off the studio take and then some.
This 1959 concert in Paris by Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers has been sporadically available on various labels, but this reissue in Verve's Jazz in Paris series is the best sounding and best packaged of the lot. Blakey's group of this period (Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Jymie Merritt, and Walter Davis, Jr.) is in great form during an extended workout of Morgan's intense blues "The Midget," and Dizzy Gillespie's timeless "A Night in Tunisia" is kicked off by Blakey's an electrifying solo.