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Born Under a Bad Sign
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Customers who bought this item also bought
|1. Born Under A Bad Sign|
|2. Crosscut Saw|
|3. Kansas City|
|4. Oh, Pretty Woman|
|5. Down Don't Bother Me|
|6. The Hunter|
|7. I Almost Lost My Mind|
|8. Personal Manager|
|9. Laundromat Blues|
|10. As The Years Go Passing By|
|11. The Very Thought Of You|
One of the best Blues Albums of all times.
Born Under a Bad Sign dates back to a time when albums were collections of singles, and when singles, designed for radio and jukebox play, seldom ran more than three and a half minutes. That limitation meant that artists had to make an impact quickly and firmly. In blues, the tendency of songs to go on a bit had to be curbed to produce performances with punch and point. There are few better examples of this process in action than Albert King's 1960s tracks like "Crosscut Saw," "Born Under a Bad Sign," and his story of hot whispers during the hot-wash cycle, "Laundromat Blues." With his thick voice and no-nonsense guitar, King brought absolute blues credibility to the well-made commercial single, and even tracks that were recorded purely for the album, like the aching slow blues "As the Years Go Passing By," became classics. Reissued with the original funky cover art, Born Under a Bad Sign is one of the foundation stones of a blues collection. --Tony Russell
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Already seasoned musician when the album was recorded, Mississippi-born and Arkansas-raised Albert (Nelson) King was a man who perfectly understood to employ minimal construction to maximum effect; to fully exploit even the most basic elements of a blues tune and use his exquisite sense of timing, and subtleness on the one hand and emphasis on the other, rather than dazzling the listener by a frenzied race all over the fretboard. ("He can take four notes and write a volume," renowned guitarist Mike Bloomfield once said about him.) This album is a perfect example of that style, and it promptly proved so influential that King's style would be taken up, in short order, by a whole new generation of guitar players, most notably Peter Green, Eric Clapton (listen to Cream's "Disraeli Gears," in particular its title track "Strange Brew," which unabashedly emulates, note-for-note, the guitar solo of "Personal Manager") and Jimi Hendrix, who like Albert King was a "leftie" and in the habit of turning his guitar upside down, with the bass strings at the bottom - and whose respect for King caused him to forever be reluctant to share a stage with his idol, although a lucky audience at San Francisco's Filmore West did see them appear together on the club's opening night.
But this album did not only prove to be one of the most influential ones in electric blues in general; it also constitutes the cornerstone of Albert King's own musical legacy, with its Booker T. Jones/Al Bell-written title track, which has since been recorded by everyone from Paul Butterfield to its inclusion of the CD based on TV's "Simpsons;" and such songs as "Crosscut Saw," "Oh Pretty Woman," "The Hunter," "Personal Manager," and of course King's first Stax single, "Laundromat Blues." Partly R&B record, not least due to the participation of the Memphis Horns (Wayne Jackson, Andrew Love and Joe Arnold), who provide a frame and additional layers of sound to King's guitar, to the studio band (Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn and Al Jackson, Jr.), the album is a product of its time only in the length of the songs, which are generally tied to the 3 1/2-minute limit set by the then-prevailing mandates of radio airplay. Yet, at heart, this is purely blues, from the title track's first powerful riff to the quiet mood of the closing "The Very Thought of You;" and from the feeling of being down and out (summed up, deadpan, in the title track's chorus: "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all") and the tale of a no-good woman who "kept on foolin' around till I got stuck on [her]" ("Oh Pretty Woman") to the grating guitar and verbal punches of the "Laundromat Blues" ("You better hear my warning ...I don't want you to get so clean, baby, you just might wash your life away"). Albert King's early gospel training shines through in every soulful note of songs such as "I Almost Lost My Mind" and "As the Years Go Passing By," and last but not least the album also includes King's own "Down Don't Bother Me" and the Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller classic "Kansas City."
Obviously feeling the need to convince an uncertain audience to give the record a try, Deanie Parker's 1967 liner notes summed up the prevalent blues cliches by recommending the album to anybody who had ever been hurt by a lover, deceived by their best friend or broke and "ready to call it quits" and promising: "Albert King has the solution if you have the time to listen ... he'll get through to you." Well, "solution" may be a bit over-optimistic - but there sure is plenty of feeling on this album, and some of the finest guitar solos ever recorded. And that in and of itself, as well as the name Albert King, should be more than enough of a recommendation to give the album a try.
If you pick up one of King's compilation albums, you'll most likely find that half of the songs come from this one record.
"Born Under A Bad Sign" boasts an incredibly strong track list, and forms the basis for Albert King's entire legacy:
"Born Under A Bad Sign", "Crosscut Saw", "Oh Pretty Woman", "Down Don't Bother Me", "The Hunter", "Laundromat Blues" and "As The Years Go Passing By" are all classics, and this record reads like a virtual greatest hits-compilation.
It's the perfect place to start appreciating Albert King's legacy, and once you pick up this CD, and a couple of King's best live albums (like the underrated "Albert King Live - Charly Blues Masterworks vol. 18"), you'll be set.
The only real alternative is Rhino's "The Ultimate Collection", which has every song off "Bad Sign" but one, as well as several other career highlights.
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