This LP was a turning point for Stax and Albert King. It was released just as Stax was about to begin its demise and it used a combination of Stax session players such as "Duck" Dunn and Atlantic "White Boy" soul players who had backed the likes of Aretha Franklin. It also has guitarist Jesse Edwin Davis, who played with King on the famous Fillmore recordings. It was produced by Don Nix of "I'm Goin Down" fame and who had played sax with the Mar-keys and others. Albert pulls off a polished LP with a slick early 1970s sound. More of a combined sound than pure blues and it was recorded in Hollywood CA and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, not Memphis. This, I feel, was Albert's first commercial market album.
However, it is an LP from Albert's "Golden Period" and the tunes do come off as very well produced, although a few are over-produced (this was Albert's problem with Tomato Records later on). First of all, we start with a cover of the Stone's then recent hit "Honky Tonk Woman", but a completely different groove. It is more polished and Albert has backing singers for the first time since he recorded in Cincinnati in the early 60s. The lyrics are also changed to remove the brothel inferences. Stax, who didn't mind songs such as "Who's Making Love" and "I'll Be The Other Woman" didn't like brothels I guess.
"Bay Area Blues" is one of King's neglected classics. It is a different sounding tune with a great groove and is a ode to King's famous Fillmore sessions. "Corna Corina' is a tune that goes back to Blind Lemon Jefferson and was done by Big Joe Tuner and many more. This tune jumps and has a great feel to it. Albert's economic solo is outstanding. "She Caught The Katy" of Taj Mahal and Blues Brothers fame is a tune to me that has an "Alabama" folk feel to it. It's part blues, part soul and part funk. "For the Love of A Woman" is a standard LP piece that wouldn't be too exciting if Albert King wasn't doing it, again it reminds us of some of his later Tomato Records work in the mid-1970s.
"Lovejoy" Ill. is an outstanding talking blues instrumental that heralds the change in Albert had would be reflected in his next three releases. He starts to define blues-funk which as the time was a new thing in the 1970s with Sly Stone, Allen Troussaint (who produced a later King LP) and others. I really love this track, another King highlight which goes unnoticed in most compilation reissues. The highlight of the set is "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven", written by Nix, which is one of King's best ever slow blues. It has a "modern progression" for the time, it's not a straight 12-bar blues, great lyrics "everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die" and a fantastic redefinition of King's standard guitar licks.
"Going Back To Iuka" is the only King track ever to have a slide guitar on it, King played no slide at all. It is effective in this tune. The final cut is a gem. "Like A Road Leading Home" was Stax's response to "Let It Be', "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and other gospel influenced tunes at the time. King had sung in a Gospel Group, the "Harmony Kings", as one point. This tune is one of the most soulful ever done by Albert, another unsung "classic" never released as a single (too long at the time). His fantastic soulful solo ends the record. This is truly one of Albert King's lost Stax classic records. It marks the change in music from the 60s to the 70s and Albert's style from "Live Wire" and "Years Gone By" to "I'll Play The Blues For You" and beyond.