Well I have been an Albert King fan since he released "King Of The Blues Guitar" when I was in college. Any material about him has always been of interest to me, for one thing, it is so scarce!! This DVD is in the new Blues Legends series and after seeing the excellent Freddie King release last year (even though the last set taped in Sweden had been released before) I had to see Albert in action again.
Note for overseas customers: Most of the music DVDs sold buy Amazon which have a disclaimer re: Region 1; "This DVD will not probably not play outside the US", is not true. All my DVD's play perfectly in Australia (Region 4). They are obviously Region 0! You can also get an all region player!
This set was taped in Sweden in June, 1980 and it has a younger (around 56-who knows his real age!)Albert performing with a seven piece band including a horn section (which is his best work!). He is playing his custom Flying-V "Lucy" with a normal Gibson headstock (eg., 335)and interestingly, no pick-up covers! The sound is fat and seems like the tone he achieved in the early 1980s when he started using his custom phaser (for the uninitiated: an effect that came out in the 1970s-post wah-wah (Hendrix). The sound is great but may be too much for the casual listener. It is much like his tone on the CD "Blues At Sunrise". The set he plays includes a great intro- very aggressive and great bending with his custom riffs. He then goes into "Born Under A Bad Sign" his signature tune from 1966's album of the same name. Then they put on a curious interview, why??? Why wasn't this at the end??? As a bonus? The DVD then continues with his old version (pre: "I'm In A Phone Booth" LP)of "The Sky Is Crying". It is great and even has the mixed up introduction as he always did even on records too-"and...it's stayed in people's minds..my mind, etc, the real honesty of the blues. He then does "The Very Thought of You" to showcase his vocal ability, but he should have done "I'll Play the Blues for You", "Cockroach" or "Crosscut Saw"!! There is then the highlight: "Cadillac Assembly Line". This is one of his best recorded video performances. The weak spot is that he bullies the band so much to be quiet that you can hardly hear them!!(He always did that!). The show goes on with a curious jazz version of "Summertime"-while Albert rests(??!!!) and he comes back with a strong version of "Cold Women With Warm Hearts". His guitar playing is excellent on this one. The finale "As The Years Go Passing By" is somewhat spoiled by the interviews spliced in with the song. Although, the close up look at Lucy is good! This should have been at the end of the show! His best playing is at the end of the tune-it is the highlight and only 2 minutes long!!!!
I have to give this 5 stars, just based on the rarity of the material! The amount of material on video of Albert King is sooooo hard to get:
He released the 1 hour set with Iowa PBS called Maintenance Shop Blues which is good, but his guitar is subdued and very phaser driven (as in the In Session CD). But there are a lot of good tunes including "Kansas City". It is now out of print (Check Amazon Auctions and Z-shops). He did a great job, probably his best on video, with B.B. King's HBO special: "A Blues Session" where he sings "The Sky Is Crying" with SRV and Paul Butterfield. He goes back in this one to a proper Flying-V guitar. too. Then there is the sporadically available "Jamming With The Blues Greats" with John Mayall where he does "Stormy Monday, Bad Sign, and You So Mean To Me" This session has great tone. sound and camera work. He also has on this one and also on Maintainence Shop, his bass player Frank Dunbar who played with King from the late 1970s until the middle 1980s (Long time for an Albert King band musician!!). The final release is from Japan (first on Laser Disc!) It is "Albert King" The Godfather of the Blues". It is Albert in the last year of his life, but he is in great form (with a mediocre band except "Dave" Jefferson, drums) He is playing his final Lucy- a pink Flying-V, the one he had when I saw him in Australia in 1990! This DVD should be stocked by Amazon! You can get it through the Z-shop however!!
You can't go by this DVD. It is Albert in good form. He plays forcefully and well. The DVD is a bit disjointed but if you are a blues guitarist or fan, who cares. What else could/should be released?
(1) Why has no one released the Filmore sessions he did on Public TV in the early 1970s!! I remember him doing "Oh Pretty Woman"! (2) The Canadian TV Show he did with SRV in which the CD in 1999 came from???! (3) His entire set from Wattstax which was released as on CD "Blues At Sunset"! (4)His set from the Ann Arbor Blues Festival??!
Anyway, get this DVD and see a taste of Albert King in his younger, pre-spectacles and pre-super grumpy phase. This is a treat of Albert fans!