Albert King's First Studio Album.
Perry Celestino | Tahmoor, NSW Australia | 11/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This set was Albert King's first intentional LP. His most famous record, "Born Under A Bad Sign" had been a compilation of singles he'd recorded in sporadic sessions at Stax. This was meant to be a proper album. It is interesting that his very first LP, "The Big Blues", for King Records, was also a singles compilation. This record is important for a number of reasons; First of all he is in his prime. He is playing straight blues with some soul arrangments. His guitar has about the best sound he was ever able to achieve. Later albums, such as Lovejoy and I'll Play The Blues For You, he became more experimental and sophisticated. Which is alright, but this CD had him as raw as he every got. The tracks are excellent. "Wrapped Up in Love Again" is a self-penned song that also became a rare single. He borrowed his ideas for this tune from some earlier blues standards of the 1940s like he did with "Blues at Sunrise". "You Don't Love Me" is his famous instrumental version of the Willie Cobb tune, this is as raw has his sound ever got!!! Check out the bends in this! "Cockroach" and "If The Washing Don't Get You The Rinsing Will" are typical of the wily humour in the 1960's Stax writing team. I particularly love Cockroach! "Drowning On Dry Land Parts One And Two" are equally raw and are classed as one of his best efforts. It is interesting that Albert never gets the lyrics right and he does a mix up of the middle of the song and also exclaims: "my nose are in the sand!" He did this on the alternate take as well! To hear the proper lyrics listen to O.V. Wright's soulful version. However, Albert's is real, it's great-what the blues is all about! It is honest music!
"Heart Fixing Business" and Little Milton's "Lonely Man" are included as tunes with different tempos and I would guess were done to augment this LP's dancablitiy. He does a cover of his own "You Threw You're Love On Me Too Strong" and the track is interesting as it is the only mono track and it is mixed poorly. I have always thought that is was included to make up the LP (they were always 11-12 sides in those days!). Finally there is the classic "The Sky is Crying" unlike Elmore James, Albert does not play slide and does some great and deceptively simple bending solos. Stevie Ray Vaughan thought this was the best ever. Now on the alternate take which you can hear on "Hard Bargain" I think his playing is even better. It is interesting that the Stax people probably thought that his other version was too long for one song (in those days) and put on "Too Strong" instead. Oh well, this is a great and historic CD. I would also buy his "Hard Bargain" CD as well for the extra singles and out takes from this period at Stax. "Years Gone By" is a great record and is topped off with a great cover photo from the Fillmore West."
King + MGs = Must Have
thestaxman | Jackson, MS United States | 07/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The legendary Albert King's first Stax release was the groundbreaking, earth shaking Born Under a Bad Sign, a collection of singles named for the song keyboardist Booker T. Jones and singer William Bell wrote with Big Albert in mind.
Stax sent the new King of the Blues in the studio in 1969 to record this, his first official studio album. "Wrapped Up In Love Again" sets the album off. An even better, tighter version of the song was released as a single. This type of Soul/Blues with its rockin' tempo is something nobody has ever done better than Albert King. On the other side of the coin is the album's closer "The Sky Is Cryin'". Stevie Ray Vaughn's version of the Elmore James staple is pure Albert, but of course Vaughn never had Producer Al Jackson, Jr. as a drummer - Wow!Nobody's ever come close to Jackson's snare sound, right up front on the great "Heart Fixin' Business". Jackson and his fellow MGs display their unmatched interplay throughout, particularly on Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor" and on the delightful "Cockroach", a song that finds King's woman forcing him to sleep on the floor while a big ole cockroach is lookin' up at him. It features one of the most superb bass lines you'll ever here courtesy of King's fellow pipe smoker Donald "Duck" Dunn and brilliant work by Jackson. The great slow Blues of "Drowning On Dry Land" is yet another Albert King masterpiece. This is followed by an instrumental version that is just awesome. It's like a really hot MGs instrumental, complete with great rhythm guitar playing from Steve Cropper, with the added greatness of King's string bending leads. Al Jackson arranged this, and it is perfect. The Memphis Horns, Booker T. Jones's piano, King, Cropper, Dunn, and jaw dropping drumming by Jackson. Incredible! Try and get the U.K.'s Ace Records release of Years Gone By - Plus. This will give you such great finds as a never released version of Ray Charles's "I Believe to My Soul" and a beautifully done alternate version of "As the Years Go Passing By", where Jones's B-3 organ leads the way as opposed to the horns and Jones's piano on the original classic.This album should never be lost in the shuffle amongst more seminal King works such as, naturally, Born Under a Bad Sign. It is a great production from the greatest Blues guitarist and greatest band of all time."
Awesome!!! Do not look any further than this one!
P.J. Le Faucheur | Canada (ex- U.K. resident) | 11/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first got this c.d in England where it came out as "Years Gone By ..PLUS!" "Plus" meaning that it had 11 extra tracks!
(Quite a few of the extra tracks were taken from Alberts other c.d "Funky London") I wouldn't be able to hand pick a favourite track because they are ALL GOOD, and this is very rare when you are buying music."Drowning on dry land" is great as is " Don't throw your love on me too strong". Albert had a way of really digging deep and acheiving those two octave bends on his slow blues songs.
This U.S version still features the best tracks, and if you are searching for the BEST Albert King...then here it is!
His guitar can be heard nice and loud and can strip paint off walls easily.... his voice is absolutely in immaculate shape...and just look at that 'psychedelic' cover art work (originally from 1969). ---That picture was once available as a full size poster, and is the grooviest snap of Albert...One that even Austin Powers would be proud of.
Just remember what Joe Walsh said about Albert....quote" Albert King could blow Eddie Van Halen clean off stage with his amp just on 'standby'!!"
This c.d testifies to this statement accurately."