ALBERT KING: The Magnificent Upside Down Man
8th May 2017
Title: On My Merry Way: The Earliest Sessions of the Guitar King 1954-1962
A critical influence on all guitar-toting artists interested in both blues and rock. You ask Eric Clapton. There would be no Eric without Albert. At least, not in the form he became. Same with Stevie Ray Vaughan. Part of the reason for that has been King’s unique take on the guitar. Another reason is that his left-handed ‘upside down’ style has never sounded like B.B. King…unlike the majority of the rest of the blue-rock guitar fraternity.
What you’ve got here is a batch of cuts from his time at Parrot – a gig secured after Willie Dixon helped King to secure an audition. That initial audition session produced the title track from this CD collection.
From there, in 1959, King joined Bobbin Records and adopted a form of jump blues. You’ll find plenty of songs here from that period including Don’t Throw Your Love On Me So Strong. The song was issued as a single that reached No 14 in the R&B charts. This collection also focuses on five previously unissued tracks from Parrot plus another five from Bobbin including ‘Little Boy Blue’ from the former and California from the latter.
Mastering on such vintage material is expected to be difficult because of the often inherent compression present but this CD is surprisingly demur in those terms. The title track, for example, is a little strident in its presentation but not too hard on the ears. By the time we get to Blues at Sunrise, track eight, the ‘tone’, as it where, continues in fine form which aids the King vocals and prevents his delivery being shattered by overly bright guitar crescendos, adding a welcome tonal balance to the general sonics. As the CD progresses, the music quality improves further. A fine reissue.