Friday, August 12, 2011

Freddie King Was Electrifying Live Performer

Freddie King was one of the greatest of the post-war Chicago bluesmen. A formidable singer and a highly important guitarist, he had a number of records on the charts and was a major influence on many blues and rock guitarists including Luther Allison (who took over King’s Chicago band and gigs when King toured), Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan. While Bear Family has issued all of King’s commercial recordings on two box sets containing twelve CDs of music, King also had some significant live recordings. The following review appeared originally in the March 2006 DC Blues Calendar and the March-April 2006 Jazz & Blues Report (issue (280). I made minor stylistic changes in this review.

Its been three decades since the great Freddie King passed away, and the late blues guitar’s reputation has perhaps been lessened with the passing of time, which is unfortunate because few of the guitarists today play with his mix of passion and imagination.

Shout Factory has just issued Live at the Electric Ballroom, 1974, part of the label’s reconstruction of the Black Top label catalog. Recorded two years before his death, King rips through Women Across the River, which he recorded with Leon Russell; as well as blues chestnuts like Key to the Highway, Earl King’s Let the Good Times Roll, Ain’t Nobody’s Business, which he cut for Atlantic’s Cotillion subsidiary, Sweet Home Chicago and Dust My , before ending this set with Hide Away Medley.

This disc also includes an interview with him and two acoustic performances, perhaps his only acoustic recordings. King probably had the most immediate impact on rock guitar (Eric Clapton among others was heavily influenced by King’s muscular playing), and he was also a first rate singer who brought plenty of soul to his music. This is so nice to have available again.

I likely received this from a publicist for Shout Factory’s releases. This is still in print and should be readily available.

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