Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Albert King, Live from Sweden

If someone asked me who my biggest influence was in the blues, without a shadow of doubt I would reply Albert King. Albert King's music has moved and molded me more than any other blues artist.

Songs like Breaking Up Somebody's Home, High Cost of Loving, I'll Play the Blues For You, Cadillac Assembly Line, Laundry Mat Blues and As the Years Go Passing By, have been of great influence to me.
There was always something about his sound and his songs that I connected with. I think I enjoyed him more because Albert was a soulful and funky player. His material was not continuous 12 bar shuffles that blend together, but rather distinct and different in many ways. His tone was unique and because of the way he strung his guitar it was intriguing to me to watch him play.

Recently I got into a drawer in a cabinet in my home, which my family refers to as the "OH NO HERE WE GO" drawer, and pulled out my DVD of Albert King Live in Sweden. My family says that because I have been known to watch old blues concerts and footage for hours, when I have down time. Anyway, I pulled out this masterful gem and pop it into my DVD player.

If you have never seen this 1990 concert of King's you have to! This concert is really a great display of blues. He performs some of his greatest songs like Born Under a Bad Sign, Cadillac Assembly Line and As the Years go Passing by (my favorite). Along with his superb performance are periodic interviews where you get a closeup look at this Blues Giant. He speaks of his beginning, such as telling people how he was a farmer, turned mechanic, turned bulldozer driver, turned drummer from Jimmy Reed. Go figure! As time passed Albert wanted to make his own music and moved fully to the guitar. He learned to play with the strings upside down and never set them right because he was afraid he wouldn't be able to play if he did, or be able to get his unique sound.

Albert talks about his love for "Lucy" his custom made flying v. He lets listeners know that he could never do without her. He said "I could play another guitar while Lucy was being fixed, but then I'm back to her." Over the years Albert had recorded with several labels but in 1966 he ended up at home on Stax Records. In the interview he speaks how it was at Stax records that things changed for him and he began to become successful.

I don't know if you know this but Albert was the first blues player to play with an symphony orchestra. In 1969, two years after his beginning at Stax, they teamed him up with the St. Louis Symphony. Albert even made an appearance on a comedy record by Albert Brooks, "A Star Is Bought". After Stax folded, King recorded for a number of smaller labels that included Tomato, Utopia and Fantasy, until he decided to retire in the mid-1980s.

Albert had his last performance in LA on Dec. 19th 1992 and passed away two days later in his home of a heart attack.

Albert King was a great bluesman that influenced many other great players. Some of them have been, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Moore, Chris Cain and Robert Cray. Ablert King live in Sweden is really a great performance and a good look at this tremendous blues legend. If you do not have this DVD in your collection I would surely make it a part as soon as possible.

Ive seen several of King's performances over the years. I had even seen one from a blues fest in Mississippi that he should have not allowed to be released. However this performance from Sweden is stunning and flawless..............truly blues perfection!

Jimmy Warren
Vision Records & Entertainment
Recording Artists

Website: Jimmy Warren Band