Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Concord's Quirky Albert King Reissue

Concord Records has just issued a two-disc compilation of the legendary Albert King’s recordings for Stax, The Definitive Albert King on Stax.” It is compiled from a number of the recordings the late great bluesman recorded for Stax and Fantasy although it does not include selections from all of the King recordings. 34 recordings are compiled on the two discs and Bill Dahl provides the informative annotation.

This is an interesting, if at times, curious compilation which includes Pops Staples and Steve Cropper vocals from a Stax 45 from the sessions King did with them (but hardly definitive Albert King), but not include performances from some of the excellent live albums from Montreux and the Fillmore that Fantasy issued under the Stax logo. A number of performances are credited to their 45 release such as
Born Under a Bad Sign, Oh Pretty Woman, Crosscut Saw, I’ll Play the Blues For You, Everyone Wants To go to Heaven and Angel of Mercy, but a forgettable Honky Tonk Woman, is taken from an album Lovejoy. The 45 version of Blues Power is included as is a live rendition of Match Box Blues.

Amongst such indispensable blues recordings as
Crosscut Saw, Breakin’ Up Somebody’s Home, I Wanna Get Funky, That’s What the Blues Is All Bout, and Drowning on Dry Land are lesser King performances such Hound Dog, Honky Tonk Woman and a remake of Crosscut Saw. Certainly some of what was included might have been cut for say one of King’s riveting renditions of Ray Charles’ I Believe To My Soul, or one of his collaborations with Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Albert King is one of the most influential blues artists of the past several decades and his Stax comprise the most substantial part of his legacy. A better selection of material would transformed made a very good collection into a superb one.

My review copy was supplied by the record company.

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