Electric blues giant Albert King recorded this excellent live set in Chicago in February 1978. It’s unfortunate that no one documented the musicians with whom he was playing that night, but in the end King’s overpowering presence almost renders any other sounds moot. The sheer power of his guitar sound and commanding vocals dominated most every show he ever played a part in, and this disc is no exception.
For a board mix, the sound quality of these old tapes is remarkable. From the opening notes of “Born Under a Bad Sign” through the marathon “Please Come Back To Me,” the tech picked up every nuance of King’s vibrato, swoops and grinds. As was usual with his performances, he quietly begs the question of just which King was really qualified to be crowned King of the Blues. His supporting band drives things along with booting Stax-soul horns, searing organ and hard-popping drums that nicely accent King’s vocal structures. His hit-making days may have been long behind him, but King pumped out the blues as if he were still a young man on the streets of the South. Simply exceptional.
Interspersed among the tunes are several short interview clips conducted (at an unknown time) by Thirsty Ear label head Peter Gordon, a Bob Koester for a new generation. In the final interview King touches upon the impact that promoter Bill Graham had upon resurrecting the bluesman’s career in the psychedelic era. These peeks into King’s life and mind provide interesting insights into how the blues giant conducted his life behind six strings and a mike. Overall this is a highly entertaining release that will appeal to the electric blues fan.
Personnel: Albert King, guitar, vocals; other musicians unidentified.