Saturday, March 30, 2013

Albert King's Born Under A Bad Sign Even Better Remastered

The latest addition to the Stax Remasters series of Concord is the classic Albert King album, Born Under a Bad Sign. Previously reissued on CD in 2002, this latest remastered edition includes five previously unissued bonus tracks. Originally issued in 1967 it was amongst the earliest blues albums I purchased (I may have bought it in mono not stereo) and still remains among my favorite blues albums of all time and is one of those blues records that truly are essential.

Originally comprised of three singles along with five songs from another session, King backed by Booker T and the MGs and the Memphis Horns, the album contained a number of recordings that became staples of the blues and rock world including the title track, Crosscut Saw, The Hunter, As The Years Go Passing By, and Laundromat Blues. Whether first recorded by King or not (such as Crosscut Saw originally done by Tommy McClennan and then The Birmingham Blues Boys, or As The Years Go Passing By originally performed by Fenton Robinson for Duke), King placed his stamp on every tune including the unexpected delight of his take of the Ray Noble ballad The Very Thought of You.

The album’s impact can be seen by Cream’s cover of the title track as well as Ike and Tina’s cover of The Hunter (with Albert Collins on guitar), and covers of his music that continue to today. This album as much as any Albert King album displays the strength of his vocals as well as his guitar playing with his tone and nuanced playing. Included are alternate takes of the title track, Crosscut Saw (with an additional chorus at the end), The Hunter, and Personal Manager, as well as an untitled instrumental. In the liner booklet, Bill Dahl provides an astute overview of the music. Michael Point’s notes from the previous reissue along with Deanie Parker’s original 1967 liner notes also are included. As I previously stated, Born Under a Bad Sign is an essential blues album, and this Stax Remasters release improves on its earlier CD reissue.

I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is a video of Albert performing Born Under a Bad Sign.

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