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Pop - Released June 24, 2013 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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
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Blues - Released August 17, 2009 | Universal Music Mexico

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Blues - Released January 1, 1973 | Stax

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Another very solid, early-'70s outing. ~ Bill Dahl
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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
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Blues - Released January 1, 2011 | Stax

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R&B - Released January 1, 2007 | Stax

There have been many compilations of Albert King's classic Stax recordings over the years, including the wonderful double-disc set The Ultimate Collection, but Rhino's The Very Best of Albert King is perhaps the best for curious listeners, since it offers 16 classics on one disc. There may be a few favorites missing, from "The Hunter" to "The Phone Booth," but the disc does a wonderful job of summarizing the classic Stax years while adding some highlights from his latter-day recordings for Tomato. In the end, what matters is that the bare basics -- "Let's Have a Natural Ball," "C.O.D.," "Laundromat Blues," "Oh Pretty Woman," "Crosscut Saw," "Born Under a Bad Sign," "Personal Manager," "Blues Power" -- are all here, making this ideal for neophytes on a tight budget. (Of course, Born Under a Bad Sign remains an excellent introduction on its own terms, as well.) ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Blues - Released January 1, 2012 | Concord Records, Inc.

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
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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
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Blues - Released January 1, 2013 | Concord Records, Inc.

A 1991 collection of Albert King's recordings for Stax, Roadhouse Blues doesn't quite live up to its title, as it isn't down and dirty like the blues played at an out-of-the-way juke joint. Instead, this is slick, funky soul-blues that emphasizes the blues somewhat but certainly has a bit of the slick, keyboard-and-horn-fueled funkiness of the '70s. There are a couple of oddities here -- a version of "Killing Floor" that has a vocal, a live version of "Match Box Blues" from Wattstax -- but this is best thought of as a nice sampler of Albert King's somewhat unheard and definitely underrated early-'70s work. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Blues - Released May 19, 2017 | Stax

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Blues - Released January 1, 1986 | Concord Records, Inc.

The tapes of this Albert King/John Mayall album were discovered by Bill Belmont in 1986 while rummaging through the Stax vaults looking for Albert King tapes for an album of unreleased blues material. It was produced by John Mayall at Wolfman Jack Studios in Los Angeles on August 28, 1971. As to why it wasn't released at the time of its recording, Mayall said "The intent was to make it different from the Stax sound. I accomplished that but also got it canned because Stax obviously couldn't cope with that. It didn't sound like their stuff, so they didn't release it." It is an inspired pairing of King, one of the most influential guitar stylist of the modern blues, and Mayall, the chief conceptualist of the British blues revival of the Sixties. It sounds different from anything King had recorded before or since, a three-way fusion of Mississippi Delta blues, British blues, and Los Angeles jazz.
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Blues - Released January 1, 2006 | Stax

As part of the Stax Profiles series, blues guitarist Albert King is spotlighted with material recorded in the late '60s and early '70s for the Memphis-based label. Since this midline compilation only contains 11 cuts, it's easy to dwell on what was left off. For instance, where is "Laundromat Blues," "Cross Cut Saw," "The Hunter," "Blues Power," "Phone Booth," or "Personal Manager"? Gathering the hits wasn't what Fantasy Records executive and Albert King fanatic Bill Belmont had in mind when selecting these tracks. Although previously released, a few of these cuts are slightly different or expanded, such as the full-length "I'll Play the Blues for You, Pts. 1-2" backed by the Bar-Kays; a live version of "Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong" recorded at the Fillmore Auditorium in 1968; and "She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride," a track popularized by the Blues Brothers, who introduced it to a younger audience. Without a doubt, the main jewel of this set is the previously unreleased version of "Born Under a Bad Sign" recorded on December 6, 1983, and featuring King disciple and then up-and-coming guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan. For whatever reason, this version was left off the King/Vaughan collaboration In Session. ~ Al Campbell
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Pop - Released June 15, 1969 | Concord Music Group

Atlantic's original vinyl edition of this was comprised of Albert's Stax singles -- a few from Born Under a Bad Sign, along with "Cold Feet," "I Love Lucy" (two of King's patented monologues), and the beautiful "You're Gonna Need Me." Great stuff. Even greater, though, is the CD reissue, which includes those singles (which didn't appear on any other LPs) and all of Born Under a Bad Sign. Need I say more? ~ Dan Forte
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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
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Stax

One of modern blues' finest and most influential guitar players, Albert King was arguably at his creative peak in the mid- to late '60s when he was recording for Stax Records and working with the label's fine house band, Booker T. & the MG's. King's debut album for the label, Born Under a Bad Sign, released in 1967, is an undisputed classic of the genre. This five-song EP offers alternate takes from those sessions, including "Born Under a Bad Sign," "Crosscut Saw," "Personal Manager," and "The Hunter," and closes with an untitled instrumental. ~ Steve Leggett
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Blues - Released January 1, 1988 | Concord Records, Inc.

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Blues - Released August 17, 2009 | Universal Music Mexico

Hi-Res Booklet
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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
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Blues - Released January 1, 1990 | Concord Records, Inc.

Recorded live in San Francisco in 1968, here's Albert King pretty much at the top of his game, blasting out tons of great guitar and singing his heart to an appreciative crowd of young hippies. With a tight four-piece road band backing him, King fires up his Flying V and slams down hard on material like Freddie King's "San-Ho-Zay," "you Upset Me Baby," "Call It Stormy Monday," "Crosscut Saw," and "Drifting Blues." This is one of two volumes from the same Fillmore stand and both are absolutely essential to any Albert King collection; in many ways, they're the perfect introduction to this blues giant. ~ Cub Koda
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Blues - Released January 1, 1974 | Stax

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