Albert King, ( April 23, 1923-December 21, 1992) was the creator of one of the most distinctive guitar styles in the history of the Blues. Playing left handed, on a Gibson Flying V guitar, Albert would actually pull and bend the strings down towards, as he would put it, towards “his big feet.” His use of open tunings( normally reserved for slide guitarists), his powerful guitar tone, and approach of making every note count influenced guitar players ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Son Seals to Stevie Ray Vaughan and countless other Blues and Rock guitar players. He also possessed a very powerful singing voice.
He first recorded for the Parrot record company in 1953 and had some small, regional hits. However, he truly found a home when he signed with the Memphis based record Stax records in 1966. In 1967, backed by Booker T. and the MG’s and the Stax horn section, he recorded the commercially successful, landmark album “Born Under a Bad Sign.”
“Born Under a Bad Sign,” can qualify as a perfect Blues album. The stellar production, by MG’s drummer Al Jackson, the exceptional selection of songs that showcase Albert King’s unique guitar work and voice, and the sympathetic backing by a team of A-list musicians, make this a must have album in any Blues fan’s collection. The title track penned by Al Jackson and Soul singer William Bell describe a man who states “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.” King’s rhumba version of the Sam Chatmon classic “Crosscut Saw” shows off Albert’s muscular guitar tone. The guitar solo in “Crosscut Saw” directly influenced Eric Clapton’s solo in the Cream song “Strange Brew.” If you are new to the music of Albert King this album is a great introduction to one of the legends of the Blues.
Three Favorite Songs of the album:
1. Born Under a Bad Sign
2. Crosscut Saw
3. Oh, Pretty Woman
Reviews of youtube videos:
1. “Born Under a Bad Sign,” is almost like a soundtrack for the struggle of the human condition. However, Albert King maintains his dignity throughout the story he tells. The Blues is a music of acceptance and the desire for a better day. That lesson of acceptance is put to good use here. The album “Born Under a Bad Sign” was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame in 1985 and the title song was also inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame in 1988. The version here was originally on the “Born Under a Bad Sign” album.
2. “Crosscut Saw,” shows off a latin influence in the rhythmic backing for the track and delights the listener in the muscular guitar tone. This song was written by the Mississippi Sheiks’ guitarist Sam Chatmon. Chatmon was not apparently pleased with the lack of credit he received for this song. The version referenced here was also originally on the “Born Under a Bad Sign” album.
3. “Oh, Pretty Woman,” describes the frustration of being unable to articulate your desire for the object of your desire. In this case, a very pretty woman. This song echoes the lyrics of the Son House song “My Black Mama” where cheap paint and powder ain’t gonna help you none.”