on April 20, 2004
This was my very first Albert King LP. It was released as the height of the 1960s Blues Mania and so did very well with white listeners. However, the album is really a re-release of several singles and additonal session material that was done at Stax during 1966-1968. The real story is that Atlantic stole the whole Stax catalogue under a clever distribution agreement. This lead evntually to Stax's total demise in the Mid-1970s.
The album is a great overview of King's early period with Stax. Actually, it is a double album- the seminal album "Born Under A Bad Sign", with additonal cuts. All bonus tracks are originally from that Stax classic album-the most influential Black Blues LP of the late sixties.
The tunes include his classics such as "Laundromat Blues" Albert's first Stax release with his soulful double string bends, "Overall Junction" a mono instrumental masterpiece, that unlike Albert Collins or Freedie King tunes has no primary melody "or head". He offers "Born Under A Bad Sign" a tune he recorded in one take as an overdub to the MG's backing track, "I Love Lucy" is a great example of his talking blues abilities (he was one of the best) and the guitar is super raw with superb bends! "Cold Feet" a tune written with drummer Al Jackson, Jr (who also helped him on "Night Stomp" and produced his famous "Live Wire" set) it is a great talking blues with a catalogue of King licks-it was his second highest charting single. "You Sure Drive A Hard Bargain and You're Gonna Need Me" are later cuts that were added on the release of the original LP. "Bargain" was a cover a another R&B tune with a great Memphis Horns chart and "Need Me" is a self-penned Albert Classic that became the basis for Otis Rush's "Right Place, Wrong Time".
"Crosscut Saw" is my personal favourite with "Personal Manager" second. Crosscut Saw was an old 1940s tune which was given a rumba beat and still was originally released even though the first tape had been damaged! "Manager" is a great showcase for KIng's soloing technique. It may even be too much for some people! "The Very Thought of You" and "I Almost Lost My Mind" are great examples of Albert's Big Band Blues roots and his great tenor vocal ability. Many people are thrown by these tunes as not being really blues, but they demonstrate the versatility of this genre.
"The Hunter" is a famous tune that was never a hit for Albert, but was on his Bad Sign LP. Ike and Tina Tuner later recorded it with much success. "Oh Pretty, Woman" is a powerful tune that has been covered many times (Gary Moore, John Mayall) but was never actually a hit for Albert. It was wrtitten by WDIA's A.C. Williams and demonstrates the close link Stax had to Black radio play (Rufus Thomas was also a DJ there!). "As the Years Go Passing By" is one of Albert's best slow blues numbers. The best take of this tunes is to be found on the "Hard Bargain" CD released after his death and has many outtakes from this period! No one really knows who wrote the song or where it originally came from. Dedric Malone, another DJ is credited with penning it.
Finally the thrilling instrumental, his first in stereo, "Funk-Shun" contains his famous stop break bending from his original tune "Won't Be Hanging 'Round" (Although this phrase is never actually sung in the tune, a charactersitic he must have learned when he played with Jimmy Reed!). It is great, but too short! This LP is a great overall introduction to the Albert King style of Blues. An essential part of any Blues collection!
on October 2, 2003
This is an excellent overview of Albert King's beginning days with Stax Records and house band Booker T. & the MGs, along with The Memphis Horns. What this offers is the entire landmark Born Under a Bad Sign album which is considered by many to be the definitive urban Blues album. Atlantic packaged that album with some bonus material that is just as great.
King was without a doubt the most prolific Blues guitarist of his generation, and his sound spawned more imitators than even B.B. King. The remastered Rhino CD The Very Best of Albert King is the place to go to get the full effect of Albert's Blues power. His guitar doesn't stand out here near as much, but this is really a showcase for not only King's soulful string bending, but for the MGs' superior ensemble playing. It took the greatest Soul band in the world to be the most perfect band any Blues singer could ask for. Multi-instrumentalist Booker T. Jones will dazzle the listener with the most impressive technically and stylistically Blues piano work I've ever heard. And with King's producer and drummer Al Jackson, Jr. leading the way, these are some of the greatest records ever made - whatever the genre'.
on August 7, 2000
A physically imposing man, Albert King produced blues of uncommon vitality and power. His sound is well represented in this strong sampling of his work on Stax.
Every blues singer, male or female, living or dead, of any note developed a unique vocal style, and Albert is no exception. His drawl-like phrasings and frequent spoken asides (as on "Cold Feet") place a strong personal stamp on these tunes. My personal vocal favorites are "Landromat Blues," the aforementioned "Cold Feet," the often-recorded "Oh, Pretty Woman," and "You Sure Drive a Hard Bargain."
Then there's "I Love Lucy," his ode to his guitar. While you might be tempted to dismiss it as a copy cat version of B.B. King's "Lucille," don't make that mistake. Naming guitars is a long-time tradition, and Albert's tune is as different from B.B.'s as the two great bluesmen's guitar and vocal styles are. Both men can make their guitars cry, but the sound of tears and laughter come from two different women.
Oddly enough, I downgrade the CD version slightly from the original vinyl -- not enough to change my overall assessment of the release, but the added material could be stronger. Of the six bonus tracks, I consider only the mournful "As the Years Go Passing By" a significant addition to the package. Stax would have been very well advised, I think, to leave off, in particular, "The Very Thought of You," a great tune, obviously, but not one that is up Albert's alley.
Nonetheless, you'll have a great time with "King of the Blues Guitar." Albert will get a lot of argument about that assessment, but there's no question that he's a member of blues royalty.
on March 13, 2000
Many blues fans have been disappointed because Albert King's classic "Born under a bad sign" album was only available as a high=priced (and now-out-of-print) gold audiophile disc. What many don't realize is that EVERY TRACK from that classic disc is included on this "best of" CD (but in a different order). It even includes a few bonus tracks. If you've longed for the best of Albert King look no further. It's here, baby!
on December 29, 1998
I've loved this LP since I was a long-hair (I'm now a grandfather) and into Hendrix, Savoy Brown, and of course Cream - so I was delighted to see so many others not only praise it's near perfection, but recognize the influence Albert King had on the young, white, British Blues players. However, nobody mentioned "Personal Manager"...turn out the lights, put on your headphones, and tell me "Personal Manager" isn't just about the pinnacle of American, electric, urban Blues. If you're trying to discover why some folks are fanatics about Blues (and where just about all popular music comes from) you can't start anywhere better than this. And if you're already a Blues freak, and you've not heard this...boy are you in for a treat!
on October 23, 1998
This disc is a composite of 2 of Albert King's late 1960s studio albums: "Born Under A Bad Sign" (on Stax), and the Atlantic "King Of The Blues Guitar" LP. So many good tunes here, like "The Hunter", "Born Under A Bad Sign", "Oh Pretty Woman", "Kansas City", etc. I wish Atlantic had reissued this with it's original Stax cover art, but that's a minor gripe. One of the best blues guitarists ever, this disc is his complete output for Stax/Atlantic. Don't miss it, it's a classic!!
on June 26, 1998
Albert King is absolutely the king of the blues guitar. With songs like "Laundromat Blues," and "You're Gonna Need Me," he paved the way for other blues guitarists. Albert King also adds a funk to the blues with songs such as "Funk-Shun," "Cold Feet," and "You Sure Drive a Hard Bargain." He allows blues to easily mix with a new generation of music. Rarely will you find a C.D. that so skillfuly combines funk, rock, and blues with an overall effect of "cool."
on June 9, 2002
This is an album I lifted from my parents record collection when I was a kid. They didn't miss it, it was a selection they got by mistake from their record club (they were more of the Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell and Donovan ilk). I was hooked immediately. In fact, I think it was the first full blues album I ever listened to. This is the essential Albert King set, and it is pure blues magic from start to finish. Highly recommended for all blues fans, especially aspiring blues guitarists (like me).
on June 13, 2003
Unbelievable! This album is awesome. If you like the electric blues guitar, Albert King is your man and this album is his best. Excellent guitar solos accompaniad by great deep vocals. Only one song i don't love. An attempt at a slow song, "I almost lost my mind". It is Albert King tryin to be what he is not. The rest of this album is the best collection of blues i have ever heard. Three words.....BUY THIS ALBUM!!
on December 13, 1998
This is what the "fuss" is all about. If you can only have one Albert King disc (hard to do), THIS IS IT! Incredible tone, crying, wailing guitar, and a voice like black velvet. An all killer - no filler - set of tunes including Oh,Pretty Woman, Crosscut Saw, and Born Under a Bad Sign. This album defines the blues.
"I'm a cross-cut saw, baby drag me across your log."