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Blues - Released January 1, 1999 | Universal Music Mexico

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Recorded in December 1983, In Session captures an in-concert jam between Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan, the latter of whom had become the hot blues guitarist of the year thanks to his debut Texas Flood, as well as his work on David Bowie's hit Let's Dance. Vaughan may have been the new news, but King was not suffering, either. He had a world-class supporting band and was playing as well as he ever had. In other words, the stage was set for a fiery, exciting concert and that's exactly what they delivered. Vaughan was clearly influenced by King -- there are King licks all over his first two recorded efforts, and it was an influence that stayed with him to the end -- and he was unafraid to go toe-to-toe with his idol. King must have been impressed, since In Session never devolves into a mere cutting contest. Instead, each musicians spurs the other to greater heights. For aficionados of either guitarist, that means the album isn't just worth a listen -- it means that it's a record that sounds as exciting on each subsequent listen as does the first time through. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1973 | Stax

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Another very solid, early-'70s outing. © Bill Dahl /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | Stax

Booklet Distinctions Exceptional Sound Recording
Recorded in December 1983, In Session captures an in-concert jam between Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan, the latter of whom had become the hot blues guitarist of the year thanks to his debut Texas Flood, as well as his work on David Bowie's hit Let's Dance. Vaughan may have been the new news, but King was not suffering, either. He had a world-class supporting band and was playing as well as he ever had. In other words, the stage was set for a fiery, exciting concert and that's exactly what they delivered. Vaughan was clearly influenced by King -- there are King licks all over his first two recorded efforts, and it was an influence that stayed with him to the end -- and he was unafraid to go toe-to-toe with his idol. King must have been impressed, since In Session never devolves into a mere cutting contest. Instead, each musicians spurs the other to greater heights. For aficionados of either guitarist, that means the album isn't just worth a listen -- it means that it's a record that sounds as exciting on each subsequent listen as does the first time through. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1979 | Stax

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Live Wire/Blues Power is one of Albert King's definitive albums. Recorded live at the Fillmore Auditorium in 1968, the guitarist is at the top of his form throughout the record -- his solos are intense and piercing. The band is fine, but ultimately it's King's show -- he makes Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" dirty and funky and wrings out all the emotion from "Blues at Sunrise." © Thom Owens /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1967 | Craft Recordings

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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). Initially, these sessions were just released as singles, but they were soon compiled as King's Stax debut, Born Under a Bad Sign. Certainly, the concentration of singles gives the album a consistency -- these were songs devised to get attention -- but, years later, it's astounding how strong this catalog of songs is: "Born Under a Bad Sign," "Crosscut Saw," "Oh Pretty Woman," "The Hunter," "Personal Manager," and "Laundromat Blues" form the very foundation of Albert King's musical identity and legacy. Few blues albums are this on a cut-by-cut level; the songs are exceptional and the performances are rich, from King's dynamic playing to the Southern funk of the MG's. It was immediately influential at the time and, over the years, it has only grown in stature as one of the very greatest electric blues albums of all time. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 2012 | Stax

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. King has always been more impressive as a soloist than a singer, and some of his vocal performances on I'll Play the Blues for You lack the intensity one might hope for. As usual, he more than compensates with a series of exquisite six-string workouts. The title track and "Breaking Up Somebody's Home" both stretch past seven minutes, while "I'll Be Doggone" and "Don't Burn Down the Bridge" (where King coaxes a crowd to "take it to the bridge," James Brown-style) break the five-minute barrier. Riding strutting lines by bassist James Alexander, King runs the gamut from tough, muscular playing to impassioned cries on his instrument, making I'll Play the Blues for You one of a handful of his great Stax sets. © Nathan Bush /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 2011 | Stax

Blues guitarist Albert King was in his prime when he signed with Stax Records in 1966, and he stayed with the label through 1975, turning out his most memorable performances in that time, from his signature “Born Under a Bad Sign” to his blazing take on “Cross Cut Saw.” Working with the Stax house band that just happened to be Booker T. & the MG’s gave his recordings a full, soulful blues sound, and his distinctive and mannered guitar playing style (a left-hander, he kept his guitar in an E-minor tuning and played it upside down without reversing the strings, which meant when he bent a note, it bent the opposite way than most guitar players would bend it) influenced everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Eric Clapton. This fine two-disc set collects the best tracks from King's time with Stax, and includes “Born Under a Bad Sign,” “Cross Cut Saw” (there’s also a 1974 remake of this one collected here), and striking, interesting versions of Elmore James' “The Sky Is Crying” and the iconic “Hound Dog,” among other sides. It all adds up to a fine portrait of a great guitarist in his prime. © Steve Leggett /TiVo
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R&B - Released January 1, 2007 | Stax

A left-handed, self-taught guitar player who played his instrument upside down and backwards, Albert King could wring out guitar leads that were as sharp as razor blades zinging along a telephone line, but he was also a well-rounded musician, having played drums in Chicago for Jimmy Reed and was a good enough singer to have been part of a gospel quartet called the Harmony Kings. But his claim to fame and history will always be his guitar playing, and in particular, the sides he cut between 1966 and 1974 for Stax Records, the best of which are collected here. Stax was known for its funky Southern soul sides, and the blues wasn't really on the table for the imprint when King cut "Laundromat Blues" for them in 1966. The song did well enough that King became Stax's blues division almost single-handedly, releasing classics like "Crosscut Saw" in 1966 and King's signature tune, "Born Under a Bad Sign," written by William Bell and Booker T. Jones, in 1967. All of these are here, along with a slower and funkier remake of "Crosscut Saw" that King cut for Stax in 1974, making this compilation not only a fine introduction to this fiery guitar player, but also a solid survey of his peak years. © Steve Leggett /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 2002 | Stax

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Blues - Released January 1, 1972 | Stax

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. King has always been more impressive as a soloist than a singer, and some of his vocal performances on I'll Play the Blues for You lack the intensity one might hope for. As usual, he more than compensates with a series of exquisite six-string workouts. The title track and "Breaking Up Somebody's Home" both stretch past seven minutes, while "I'll Be Doggone" and "Don't Burn Down the Bridge" (where King coaxes a crowd to "take it to the bridge," James Brown-style) break the five-minute barrier. Riding strutting lines by bassist James Alexander, King runs the gamut from tough, muscular playing to impassioned cries on his instrument, making I'll Play the Blues for You one of a handful of his great Stax sets. © Nathan Bush /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1999 | Universal Music Mexico

Hi-Res Booklet
Recorded in December 1983, In Session captures an in-concert jam between Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan, the latter of whom had become the hot blues guitarist of the year thanks to his debut Texas Flood, as well as his work on David Bowie's hit Let's Dance. Vaughan may have been the new news, but King was not suffering, either. He had a world-class supporting band and was playing as well as he ever had. In other words, the stage was set for a fiery, exciting concert and that's exactly what they delivered. Vaughan was clearly influenced by King -- there are King licks all over his first two recorded efforts, and it was an influence that stayed with him to the end -- and he was unafraid to go toe-to-toe with his idol. King must have been impressed, since In Session never devolves into a mere cutting contest. Instead, each musicians spurs the other to greater heights. For aficionados of either guitarist, that means the album isn't just worth a listen -- it means that it's a record that sounds as exciting on each subsequent listen as does the first time through. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1967 | Craft Recordings

Hi-Res
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). Initially, these sessions were just released as singles, but they were soon compiled as King's Stax debut, Born Under a Bad Sign. Certainly, the concentration of singles gives the album a consistency -- these were songs devised to get attention -- but, years later, it's astounding how strong this catalog of songs is: "Born Under a Bad Sign," "Crosscut Saw," "Oh Pretty Woman," "The Hunter," "Personal Manager," and "Laundromat Blues" form the very foundation of Albert King's musical identity and legacy. Few blues albums are this on a cut-by-cut level; the songs are exceptional and the performances are rich, from King's dynamic playing to the Southern funk of the MG's. It was immediately influential at the time and, over the years, it has only grown in stature as one of the very greatest electric blues albums of all time. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1983 | Stax

King cranked out this solid, if typical, album for the Stax label after the success of Born Under a Bad Sign. With Booker T. drummer Al Jackson producing, the set includes such staples as "You Threw Your Love on Me Too Strong," "Wrapped up in Love Again," and a powerful version of Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor." For fans of King's guitar work, the inclusion of the instrumental workouts on "You Don't Love Me" and "Drowning on Dry Land" are a special bonus. Not an essential Albert King album, but one of his good ones. © Cub Koda /TiVo
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Blues - Released October 1, 1969 | Geffen

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. © Cub Koda /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1991 | Stax

Originally titled King Does the King's Thing, here's Albert King adding his own touch to a batch of Elvis Presley tunes. Because King's style is so irreducible, the concept actually works, as he fills this album with his traditional, high-voltage guitar work and strong vocals. That isn't surprising, since four of the nine tunes on here originally started as R&B hits covered by Presley, including an instrumental version of Smiley Lewis' "One Night." No matter what the original sources may be, though, this is a strong showing in King's catalog. © Cub Koda /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1986 | Stax

"The best of Albert King"? More like the best material that he happened to record for Stax between 1968 and 1973. Even that's debatable, the 13 tracks including covers such as "Honky Tonk Woman," "Sky Is Crying," and "Hound Dog." It does present a reasonable cross-section of his soul-inflected work of the period, drawing from over a half-dozen LPs and a couple of singles, though you might be as well or better off with his more focused individual titles. And for the true "best of Albert King," Rhino's Ultimate Collection remains the hands-down winner. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1988 | Stax

Recorded at Albert King's appearance at the 1973 Montreux Jazz Festival, Blues at Sunrise: Live at Montreux is a typically engaging live record from the guitarist. King is in good form and the set list is a little unpredictable, featuring standards like "Blues at Sunrise" and "I'll Play the Blues for You" as well as lesser-known items like "Little Brother (Make a Way)" and "Don't Burn Down the Bridge." © Thom Owens /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1994 | Stax

Albert King cut his teeth on the blues circuits of Arkansas and St. Louis, developing his style in a number of electric outfits. His recording career was, at least initially, erratic, though the quality of the sides he cut for the Parrot, King, and Coun-Tree imprints certainly was not. It wasn't until King signed to Stax in 1966, however, and the guitarist's electric blues fused with the muscular bass, funky guitars, and sparkling horns of the label's outstanding session players, that he found his first home. King stayed with the label for eight years, leaving only when Stax was entering its financial decline. Funky London manages to dig up a few from the period that nearly got away, compiling three 45 sides and six unreleased tracks. The singles include a pair of instrumentals (a cover of James Brown's "Cold Sweat" and "Funky London," a dispensable, up-tempo 12-bar workout) and one vocal ("Can't You See What You're Doing to Me"). By the nature of the material, those songs and the six that follow lack the cohesiveness of an album, though the quality of the music ultimately prevails. Downshifting for "Lonesome," the combo is steeped in the blues. After a false start ("What's the matter with y'all!?" asks King), the band begins again, King's crying guitar lines joined by keyboard commentary, smoky threads of wah-wah guitar and an exquisite horn arrangement. "Sweet Fingers" is an excellent example of funky blues ensemble playing and "Driving Wheel" a fine interpretation of the Roosevelt Sykes tune. Perhaps most important is the fact that the majority of the music here maintains the standards established on King's official Stax releases, making this a desirable set. © Nathan Bush /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1982 | Stax

This 1970 studio effort teamed up Albert with producer Don Nix, who supplied the majority of the original material here. Kicking off with a typical reading of the Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman" and including Taj Mahal's "She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride," the session is split between a Hollywood date with Jesse Ed Davis, Jim Keltner, and Duck Dunn in the band and one at Muscle Shoals with Roger Hawkins, David Hood, and Barry Beckett in the lineup. Although all of this is well-produced, there's hardly any fireworks out of Albert or any of the players aboard, making this an unessential addition for any but Albert King completists. © Cub Koda /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1995 | Fantasy Records

A collection of B-sides, alternate takes, and previously unissued outtakes from King's Stax prime (1966-1972), some instrumental. It's not as good as King's best Stax material, but it's not far behind, often benefiting from house players like Booker T. & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, and the Bar-Kays. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo