Although Albert King is pictured on the front cover and has the lion's share of tracks on this excellent compilation, six of the fourteen tracks come from Rush's shortlived tenure with the label and are some of his very best. Chronologically, these are his next recordings after the Cobra sides and they carry a lot of the emotional wallop of those tracks, albeit with much loftier production values with much of it recorded in early stereo. Oddly enough, some of the material ("All Your Love," "I'm Satisfied [Keep on Loving Me Baby]") were remakes – albeit great ones – of tunes that Cobra had already released as singles! But Rush's performance of "So Many Roads" (featuring one of the greatest slow blues guitar solos of all time) should not be missed at any cost.
Albert King doesn't require much of an introduction, he was one of the 'Three Kings of the Blues' and arguably next to B.B. he was perhaps the most popular of the many genuine blues guitarists to have been adopted by the rock world during the mid-1960s. Albert began playing in the late 40s and made his first recordings in 1953 and it is these early sessions that are the focus of this outstanding collection from Jasmine. Includes tracks "Blues At Sunrise", his fine version of Tampa Red's "Little Boy Blue" and his hit song "Don't Throw Your Love On Me So Strong" plus many other superb tracks. Albert King influenced many artists including Mick Taylor, Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield and Stevie Ray Vaughan. This then is Albert King's first tentative steps towards global popularity compiled in chronological order and with fully detailed liner notes.
Albert King recorded a lot in the early '60s, including some classic sides, but they never quite hit the mark. They never gained a large audience, nor did they really capture the ferocity of his single-string leads. Then he signed with Stax in 1966 and recorded a number of sessions with the house band, Booker T. & the MG's, and everything just clicked. The MG's gave King supple Southern support, providing an excellent contrast to his tightly wound lead guitar, allowing to him to unleash a torrent of blistering guitar runs that were profoundly influential, not just in blues, but in rock & roll (witness Eric Clapton's unabashed copping of King throughout Cream's Disraeli Gears)…
Crosscut Saw reissues Albert King's 1983 album San Francisco '83 (a studio album, not a live one), adding two previously unreleased cuts. His first new release in five years, it wasn't one of King's better records – but it did represent a return to a basic five-piece sound, an improvement upon his over-produced outings of the late '70s.
It's not as if Albert King hadn't tasted success in his first decade and a half as a performer, but his late-'60s/early-'70s recordings for Stax did win him a substantially larger audience. During those years, the label began earning significant clout amongst rock fans through events like Otis Redding's appearance at the Monterey International Pop Festival and a seemingly endless string of classic singles. When King signed to the label in 1966, he was immediately paired with the Stax session team Booker T. & the MG's. The results were impressive: "Crosscut Saw," "Laundromat Blues," and the singles collection Born Under a Bad Sign were all hits. Though 1972's I'll Play the Blues for You followed a slightly different formula, the combination of King, members of the legendary Bar-Kays, the Isaac Hayes Movement, and the sparkling Memphis Horns was hardly a risky endeavor. The result was a trim, funk-infused blues sound that provided ample space for King's oft-imitated guitar playing.
The new Stax Classics series celebrates the iconic label's greatest stars, offering new liner notes, label discographies and 12 choice cuts from the artists' Stax catalog. This collection highlights one of the most influential bluesmen in history, Albert King, who single-handedly ushered blues into the modern era by combining his direct, urgent Mississippi blues style with contemporary soul rhythms, continually redefining the state of the genre. During his nine years on the label, the prolific artist released dozens of innovative hits and became one of the few blues artists to break through to the young, white rock crowd, influencing many of the biggest rock stars of the 60s and 70s, including Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. This album includes such classics as 'Crosscut Saw,' 'Born Under a Bad Sign,' and 'Breaking Up Somebody's Home.'
All of King's recordings for the Bobbin label are on this 22-track disc, including everything from his 1959-1963 singles for the label and previously unissued alternate takes of "Why Are You So Mean to Me," "The Time Has Come," and the previously unissued "Blues at Sunrise." While these are decent journeyman urban blues/R&B, they're not up to the level of his subsequent recordings for Stax. Albert King just sounds too much like the records another King – B.B. King, that is – was making during the same era. There are similar horn arrangements and alternation of stinging guitar with smooth, confident vocal phrasing. It's a tribute to Albert King's abilities, in a way, that it does sound confident, and not the work of an imitator, despite the similarities.