Step It Up And Go
Albert Washington is a singer-guitarist who made a number of singles from the late fifties to the seventies for such labels as Fraternity and Jewel, one of which, If You Need Me, was covered by the Rolling Stones. Born in Georgia, but a Cincinnati resident for most of his adult life, he hasn’t recorded for twenty years. Iris Records, an independent label that previously issued some notable jazz recordings has just remedied this with Step It Up and Go, a newly released album containing ten originals and a nice reworking of the Buddy and Ella Johnson classic, Since I Fell For You.
Washington suffers from high blood pressure, and near blindness, both derived from diabetes. While his voice can’t soar as high as on his classic deep soul recordings, this fifty three year singer certainly comes across as soulful as ever on a program of mostly modern blues with several tracks, such as Hard Days and The Good Old Days, showing more than a hint of southern soul.. He receives solid backing here, with horns on a few tracks, and harmonica on a few others, although horns suit his music far better than the harp.
Bruce Katz’s keyboards are particularly worthy of note, and Kevin Barry adds some nice guitar. The bass and drums simply provide a basic foundation, but without as much imagination as Katz and Barry. A couple of message tunes, Things Are Getting Bad and Leave Them Drugs Alone, add variety to his blues and soul laments like Hold On To a Good Woman, a fine slow blues with Katz and Barry both featured. A solid, promising return of a midwest blues legend.
This review originally appeared in the April 1993 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 180) and I likely received my review copy from either that publication or the record company. You may still be able to find this as a used CD. He would also record a follow-up for Iris, A Brighter Day. He passed away in 1998. Ace Records in the UK, in 2004, released an excellent compilation of his early recordings Blues and Soul Man.
Here is a vintage Albert Washington recording from the sixties.