Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
John Carr | 02/28/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There's a lot of confusion about these Albert Collins off-label releases, as well as those of other Blues artists. Some of these are semi-official bootlegs, in my opinion. Which is not a bad thing, as otherwise they'd remain in private collections unaccessible to Collins' fans.
"Rockin' With The Iceman" is one of "these." When I put in my deck, it was instantly familiar; most of the opening tracks are identical to "Molten Ice: The Hot Cool Sound of Albert Collins." An interesting release since it's from 1973 (a period short in Collins' live official releases); he was on Tumbleweed and no official live albums appear from this period either from Tumbleweed or his earlier label, Imperial.
One major problem is that it's an audience recording (or a very poor monitor mix) and there substantial distortion on some songs, primarily with Collin's back-up band. The sound quality is about an 8, while the mix is about a 6. The audience only crops up between tracks, or during the slower numbers; the audience's not too obtrusive, unlike a lot of audience tapes from this era.
Collin's guitar is pretty much front and center throught the first 5 tracks which were recorded live at the El Mocambo Club, Toronto Canada. (Interestingly, "Molten Ice" contains 4 more tracks?) The killer track is the opener, Icy Intro (probably not Collins' name!), which incorporates some tasty Wes Montgomery slides -- very nice, and almost unique among Collin's recordings. Things That I Used To Do is marred by too much distortion; however, I've Got A Mind To Travel is much better. The 12 minute version of Frosty, as usual, cooks, without the maditory horn and organ solos of the 90s. Typical of Collin's early 70s concerts, there's an absense of horns and organ, so we get a lot of tasty Collins' licks -- no bad thing! Can't You See What You're Doin' To Me? a B.B. King penned number is your standard blues instrumental; although, Collins graces it with some pizzaz and a wah-wah solo. At this time, he was noted more as a guitar player and his biggest hits were instrumentals. He only sang a few songs. When I saw him in a small club in '72, he only sang 3 or 4 numbers the entire set.
The second 7 tracks were recored live at the Fullmore Auditorium, San Francisco 1969. (There are 9 tracks on the 3 other releases from off-brand labels of this rare concert.) The sound quality here is improved; that is, it's a soundboard mix rather than an audience recording. (My expertise comes from 6 years of reviewing Rolling Stone bootlegs for "Sticky Fingers Magazine.") Still, (typical of even soundboard recordings from the late 60s) there's some feedback and distortion and the mix is sometimes poor, like on Thaw Out. The bass sounds flat and sometimes the backing group is out of tune, and the Fillmore audience (more accustomed to psychadellic jams) is clearly not with it.
There's noticable distortion on both So Tired and Deep Freeze, which includes considerable feedback during the opening and some bad tape compression in the middle.
Things improve soundwise with a strong version of Jimmy Reed's Baby What You Want Me To Do. It's one of the set's highlights with a killer solo. Very nice version of Backstroke, another of Collin's great instrumentals. The concert ends with a so-so version of Mustang Sally. The vocals are clearly beyond Collins' limited reach; his vocals improved greatly with time.
However, despite all its deficancies, this is an essential CD for dedicated Collins' fans. This Fillmore West show is from the time (1969) that Albert came to the west coast at the urgings of Canned Heat, who were big Collins' fans, and signed with Imperial/Blue Thumb. It's listenable and the guitar is always front and center.
Set List: 1. Icy Intro 2. Things That I Used To Do 3. I've Got A Mind To Travel 4. Frosty 5. Can't You See What You're Doing' To Me? 6. How Blue Can You Get? 7. Thaw Out 8. So Tired 9. Deep Freeze 10. Baby What You Want Me To Do 11. Backstroke 12. Mustang Sally"