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The Definitive Albert King

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Album Review

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.


Born: 25 April 1923 in Indianola, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Albert King is truly a "King of the Blues," although he doesn't hold that title (B.B. does). Along with B.B. and Freddie King, Albert King is one of the major influences on blues and rock guitar players. Without him, modern guitar music would not sound as it does -- his style has influenced both black and white blues players from Otis Rush and Robert Cray to Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan. It's important to note that while almost all modern blues guitarists seldom play for long without falling...
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