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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take it from one born on a 13th (albeit not a Friday) ...
... and under a half moon on the decline: This is one amazing blues album, doubtlessly one of the greatest ever recorded, and one of the most influential records in all of music history. Because in 1966-67, when Albert King got together on a total of no more than five days with the legendary Booker T. Jones and the MGs, Isaac Hayes, and a recording team of the likewise...
Published on 25 Aug 2003 by Themis-Athena

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Bad remaster
The balance between the vocals and the music is way off - vocals are far too quiet compared to the music. This isn't how this album is supposed to sound.
Published 13 months ago by Hannah


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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take it from one born on a 13th (albeit not a Friday) ..., 25 Aug 2003
By 
Themis-Athena (from somewhere between California and Germany) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Born Under a Bad Sign (Audio CD)
... and under a half moon on the decline: This is one amazing blues album, doubtlessly one of the greatest ever recorded, and one of the most influential records in all of music history. Because in 1966-67, when Albert King got together on a total of no more than five days with the legendary Booker T. Jones and the MGs, Isaac Hayes, and a recording team of the likewise legendary Stax records to produce this album, the blues was quietly on its way out; in danger of being sidelined by psychedelia and the rock music revolution started by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. That this did not happen is due, not least, to Albert King and "Born Under a Bad Sign."
Already seasoned musician when the album was recorded, Mississippi-born and Arkansas-raised Albert (Nelson) King was a man who perfectly understood to employ minimal construction to maximum effect; to fully exploit even the most basic elements of a blues tune and use his exquisite sense of timing, and subtleness on the one hand and emphasis on the other, rather than dazzling the listener by a frenzied race all over the fretboard. ("He can take four notes and write a volume," renowned guitarist Mike Bloomfield once said about him.) This album is a perfect example of that style, and it promptly proved so influential that King's style would be taken up, in short order, by a whole new generation of guitar players, most notably Peter Green, Eric Clapton (listen to Cream's "Disraeli Gears," in particular its title track "Strange Brew," which unabashedly emulates, note-for-note, the guitar solo of "Personal Manager") and Jimi Hendrix, who like Albert King was a "leftie" and in the habit of turning his guitar upside down, with the bass strings at the bottom - and whose respect for King caused him to forever be reluctant to share a stage with his idol, although a lucky audience at San Francisco's Filmore West did see them appear together on the club's opening night.
But this album did not only prove to be one of the most influential ones in electric blues in general; it also constitutes the cornerstone of Albert King's own musical legacy, with its Booker T. Jones/Al Bell-written title track, which has since been recorded by everyone from Paul Butterfield to its inclusion of the CD based on TV's "Simpsons;" and such songs as "Crosscut Saw," "Oh Pretty Woman," "The Hunter," "Personal Manager," and of course King's first Stax single, "Laundromat Blues." Partly R&B record, not least due to the participation of the Memphis Horns (Wayne Jackson, Andrew Love and Joe Arnold), who provide a frame and additional layers of sound to King's guitar, to the studio band (Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn and Al Jackson, Jr.), the album is a product of its time only in the length of the songs, which are generally tied to the 3 1/2-minute limit set by the then-prevailing mandates of radio airplay. Yet, at heart, this is purely blues, from the title track's first powerful riff to the quiet mood of the closing "The Very Thought of You;" and from the feeling of being down and out (summed up, deadpan, in the title track's chorus: "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all") and the tale of a no-good woman who "kept on foolin' around till I got stuck on [her]" ("Oh Pretty Woman") to the grating guitar and verbal punches of the "Laundromat Blues" ("You better hear my warning ...I don't want you to get so clean, baby, you just might wash your life away"). Albert King's early gospel training shines through in every soulful note of songs such as "I Almost Lost My Mind" and "As the Years Go Passing By," and last but not least the album also includes King's own "Down Don't Bother Me" and the Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller classic "Kansas City."
Obviously feeling the need to convince an uncertain audience to give the record a try, Deanie Parker's 1967 liner notes summed up the prevalent blues cliches by recommending the album to anybody who had ever been hurt by a lover, deceived by their best friend or broke and "ready to call it quits" and promising: "Albert King has the solution if you have the time to listen ... he'll get through to you." Well, "solution" may be a bit over-optimistic - but there sure is plenty of feeling on this album, and some of the finest guitar solos ever recorded. And that in and of itself, as well as the name Albert King, should be more than enough of a recommendation to give the album a try.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding blues guitar!!, 5 Nov 2002
By 
J. Whiting (Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Born Under a Bad Sign (Audio CD)
It's very cliched to say "he said so much with so few notes", but it's fitting in this case. Albert's pithy, meaty guitar tones grab you by the throat and squeeze. Add to that Booker T and the MGs as a backing band, and a pre "Shaft" Isaac Hayes providing muscular support on keyboards, and you have an amazing album. If you love blues guitar, get it!!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe it or not:, 15 Feb 2005
By 
. (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Born Under a Bad Sign (Audio CD)
When this recording first came out, it was an experiment to have a real blues guitarist backed up by a Southern Soul outfit...but it was such a perfect fit, that it immediately became the standard to which all blues thereafter was compared...Praises to Al Jackson Jr., the MG's drummer and Albert's producer: He went from being the premier soul drummer to the world's greatest blues drummer overnight, and quite likely the greatest blues producer, too. Everything is perfect...Steve Cropper plays in support so exactly right that most rythm guitarists who 'cover' these tunes can't bring themselves to play so simply. I won't go on about Albert himself..it's so obvious.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King of the Blues Guitar, 28 Jun 2008
By 
G. E. Harrison (Cheltenham, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Born Under a Bad Sign (Audio CD)
One of the classic electric blues records of the 60s, there isn't a duff track on it, although if you get the 'King of the Blues Guitar' CD you get all these tracks plus the Stax singles "I love Lucy" "Funk shun" and "Cold feet" and a couple of others. All his classics are here that were recorded by many others in the second blues boom - "Pretty woman", "The hunter", "Crosscut saw" and of course "Born under a bad sign". At the time in the 60s many of my friends were into soul and didn't like blues but they liked this record, which is blues you can dance to.

Albert was probably the most limited of the Kings (B.B. and Freddie) both as a guitarist and a singer but what he does he does well - a powerful, relaxed voice and a screaming, sinuous guitar weaving in and out of the melody. All this over the funky soul strut of the Stax rhythm section and the Memphis horns. Six stars at least!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He Could Bend His Guitar to His Will in Ways We're Not Likely to See Again, 21 May 2011
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Born Under a Bad Sign (Audio CD)
"Born Under A Bad Sign," (1967), was a seminal, great hit-making record for blues giant Albert King, and was the first record he made when signed to the legendary Memphis-based Stax. It was a partnership made in musical heaven; the talent the record company threw at this release was extraordinary. Booker T. Jones, of the studio's "Booker T. and the MGs," co-wrote the many-times covered title song, as well as "The Hunter." King was, of course, a greatly talented guitarist, but the studio gave him Steve Cropper as backing guitar. Add Jones, and Isaac Hayes, as pianists; Donald ("Duck") Dunn on bass; Al Jackson Jr. on drums. And don't forget the wailing Memphis Horns: Wayne Jackson, Andrew Love, and Joe Arnold. Finally, I can't find it anywhere in print, but I believe I read/saw somewhere that the great stride pianist Champion Joe Dupree, who provided the same service on the Glasgow-born blues shouter Maggie Bell's magnificent take of the same song, provided the piano on King's "As the Years Go Passing By."

The title song here, King's signature tune, lives on, and has been covered by such talent as Eric Clapton, and Cream. "I Almost Lost My Mind," by Ivory Joe Hunter, and "The Very Thought of You," by Ray Noble, show King taking a quick trip through mainstream music. "Kansas City" was a Leiber-Stoller ditty. "Crosscut Saw" is a masterpiece of concision. And for funky blues, try "Personal Manager," which King himself had a hand in writing, or "Down Don't Bother Me," another one King wrote, on which his powerful attack and purity are well displayed. Or "Laundromat Blues," which was King's first hit single for Stax, in which we meet a musician who can be full of sass. And the moody "As the Years Go Passing By," by Deadric Malone, one of my all-time favorite songs, though I must admit I love it slightly better in Maggie Bell's femme-oriented version that was recorded on Atlantic, in Queen of the Night.

King was born in Indianola, Mississippi, on April 25, 1923, as, coincidentally, was B.B. King - no relation, nor is the third blues King, Freddie King. However, Albert did, perhaps, like to fudge things a little: he called his favorite Gibson Flying V guitar Lucy, as B.B. King calls his guitar Lucille. I actually did get to listen to Albert live, quite a few times; his power could energize a room. In fact, I followed Albert around for two weeks observing him on his first, possibly his only, tour of the United Kingdom, in, I believe, 1969. I almost didn't get to go. I was, initially, to be traveling on a ticket meant for a Memphis Horn. But when the impresario of the tour discovered the Horns weren't coming, he was furious, and cashed in those tickets. However, I'd already pre-sold my article on Albert to "Cavalier," a magazine current at the time. So Stax bought me a ticket.

At any rate, B.B. is still with us, and still making music, but Albert, who based himself in East St. Louis, passed of a heart attack, as a relatively young man, on December 21, 1992. He could bend a guitar to his will in ways we're not likely to see again. A must.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...Hard Luck And Trouble..." Born Under A Bad Sign by ALBERT KING (2013 "Stax Remasters" CD), 19 Aug 2014
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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I've been collecting and reviewing this "Stax Remasters" series since they first started to appear in May 2011 - and this is only release number 9 - but what a total belter it is.

USA released June 2013 on Concord Music Group STCX-34334-02 (Barcode 888072343344) - Tracks 1 to 11 give us the album "Born Under A Bad Sign" by ALBERT KING. The original issue first appeared in August 1967 on Stax Records S-723 in the USA. Tracks 12 to 16 are Previously Unreleased Bonuses:
12. Born Under A Bad Sign (Take 1 - Alternate)
13. Crosscut Saw (Take 1 - Alternate)
14. The Hunter (Take 1 - Alternate)
15. Personal Manager (Take 15 - Alternate)
16. Untitled Instrumental

The 16-page booklet has typically insightful and fun liner notes from Chicago's resident Blues and R'n'B writing genius BILL DAHL - a man whose talent and passion for the music has graced literally hundreds of reissues and major Box Sets. The following pages reproduce Michael Point's observations from the 2002 CD reissue - the final pages the original notes on the back of the 1967 LP - and finally musician/reissue credits. JOE TARATINO has handled the remaster (as he has for the whole "Stax Remasters" series) and it's superb - full of life and clarity. There's hiss (as there always is on Stax sessions) - but it doesn't detract from the listen - if anything - it feels more live-in-your-living-room for it.

"Born Under A Bad Sign" opens with that title track winner (surely his signature tune) and follows it with another - "Crosscut Saw". Real fast you notice the tight and uber cool band - Stax House players BOOKER T & THE M.G.'s (Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Al Jackson, Jr and Booker T. Jones) themselves backed up by the fabulous MEMPHIS HORNS (Wayne Jackson, Andrew Love and Joe Arnold). It's as classic Stax Blues as you can get (Soul too). "Kansas City" still sounds slightly out of place but "The Hunter" turned FREE on and "Personal Manager" is just genius. Unappreciated gems include his cover of Fenton Robinson's "As The Years Go Passing By" and his barroom bluesy take on the crooner stalwart "The Very Thought Of You" (a 1934 classic).

With the CD having only 47:00 minutes playing time - the 7" single edit of "Personal Manager" (which excludes Albert's guitar solo) could easily have been tagged on - especially as it's actually one of the best tracks on here. But what we do get is a genuine thrill for King fans - a unreleased take. You can see why it was canned though - it runs a tad too fast and looses that fabulous Bluesy feel the master take has. And I love the song's slyly salacious lyrics "I want to be your milk man every morning...and your ice-cream man when the day is through..." In fact the other Take 1 Alternates are brilliantly recorded - really clear - you can catch that he's getting a feel for the songs but the power on each is there right from the start. Even the short but untitled 'instrumental' is a winner.

A wonderful reissue of a top album (and it's dirt cheap too). Great stuff - and a must buy...

PS: "STAX REMASTERS" Series to August 2014 are (all reviewed):
1. Green Onions - BOOKER T & THE M.G.'S (1962)
2. McLemore Avenue - BOOKER T. & THE M.G.'S (1970)
3. Woman To Woman - SHIRLEY BROWN (1975)
4. Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get - THE DRAMATICS (1972)
5. Born Under A Bad Sign - ALBERT KING (1967)
6. I'll Play The Blues For You - ALBERT KING (1971)
7. Be Altitude: Respect Yourself - THE STAPLE SINGERS (1972)
8. Taylored In Silk - JOHNNIE TAYLOR (1973)
9. Do The Funky Chicken - RUFUS THOMAS (1970)
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take it from one born on a 13th (albeit not a Friday) ..., 27 Feb 2005
By 
Themis-Athena (from somewhere between California and Germany) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Born Under a Bad Sign (Audio CD)
... and under a half moon on the decline: This is one amazing blues album, doubtlessly one of the greatest ever recorded, and one of the most influential records in all of music history. Because in 1966-67, when Albert King got together on a total of no more than five days with the legendary Booker T. Jones and the MGs, Isaac Hayes, and a recording team of the likewise legendary Stax records to produce this album, the blues was quietly on its way out; in danger of being sidelined by psychedelia and the rock music revolution started by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. That this did not happen is due, not least, to Albert King and "Born Under a Bad Sign."
Already seasoned musician when the album was recorded, Mississippi-born and Arkansas-raised Albert (Nelson) King was a man who perfectly understood to employ minimal construction to maximum effect; to fully exploit even the most basic elements of a blues tune and use his exquisite sense of timing, and subtleness on the one hand and emphasis on the other, rather than dazzling the listener by a frenzied race all over the fretboard. ("He can take four notes and write a volume," renowned guitarist Mike Bloomfield once said about him.) This album is a perfect example of that style, and it promptly proved so influential that King's style would be taken up, in short order, by a whole new generation of guitar players, most notably Peter Green, Eric Clapton (listen to Cream's "Disraeli Gears," in particular its title track "Strange Brew," which unabashedly emulates, note-for-note, the guitar solo of "Personal Manager") and Jimi Hendrix, who like Albert King was a "leftie" and in the habit of turning his guitar upside down, with the bass strings at the bottom - and whose respect for King caused him to forever be reluctant to share a stage with his idol, although a lucky audience at San Francisco's Filmore West did see them appear together on the club's opening night.
But this album did not only prove to be one of the most influential ones in electric blues in general; it also constitutes the cornerstone of Albert King's own musical legacy, with its Booker T. Jones/Al Bell-written title track, which has since been recorded by everyone from Paul Butterfield to its inclusion of the CD based on TV's "Simpsons;" and such songs as "Crosscut Saw," "Oh Pretty Woman," "The Hunter," "Personal Manager," and of course King's first Stax single, "Laundromat Blues." Partly R&B record, not least due to the participation of the Memphis Horns (Wayne Jackson, Andrew Love and Joe Arnold), who provide a frame and additional layers of sound to King's guitar, to the studio band (Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn and Al Jackson, Jr.), the album is a product of its time only in the length of the songs, which are generally tied to the 3 1/2-minute limit set by the then-prevailing mandates of radio airplay. Yet, at heart, this is purely blues, from the title track's first powerful riff to the quiet mood of the closing "The Very Thought of You;" and from the feeling of being down and out (summed up, deadpan, in the title track's chorus: "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all") and the tale of a no-good woman who "kept on foolin' around till I got stuck on [her]" ("Oh Pretty Woman") to the grating guitar and verbal punches of the "Laundromat Blues" ("You better hear my warning ...I don't want you to get so clean, baby, you just might wash your life away"). Albert King's early gospel training shines through in every soulful note of songs such as "I Almost Lost My Mind" and "As the Years Go Passing By," and last but not least the album also includes King's own "Down Don't Bother Me" and the Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller classic "Kansas City."
Obviously feeling the need to convince an uncertain audience to give the record a try, Deanie Parker's 1967 liner notes summed up the prevalent blues cliches by recommending the album to anybody who had ever been hurt by a lover, deceived by their best friend or broke and "ready to call it quits" and promising: "Albert King has the solution if you have the time to listen ... he'll get through to you." Well, "solution" may be a bit over-optimistic - but there sure is plenty of feeling on this album, and some of the finest guitar solos ever recorded. And that in and of itself, as well as the name Albert King, should be more than enough of a recommendation to give the album a try.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Present, 2 Mar 2014
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My husband absolutely adores this CD. He is very pleased with it and it made a great Christmas present. Thanks
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Treasure trove of classics, 1 Jun 2011
This review is from: Born Under a Bad Sign (Audio CD)
Born under a bad sign, Oh pretty woman, as the years go passing by and many other great songs, this is a classic all the way. It is a CD I play often and always get inspiration from.

Eric Clapton must have thought of this as his bible back in 1967 as he covered several tracks from this over his lifetime.

Peter green & Garry Moore also covered several songs from this album.

Classic music remains classic and this is one of them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pure gold from start to finish, 18 July 2014
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Like me I trust and hope Albert King fans will already have this album in one format or another and will inevitably have (or should already have) got hold of this remastered version - even if only for the superb cover. And if they have not then THEY SHOULD have. Likewise blues fans in general. And for those who are not familiar with big Al then this is probably the one to have. I only say "probably" because the other contender would undoubtedly be "I'll play the blues for you".

This blending of big Al's voice and guitar with the cream of Stax musicians has produced pure gold Whereas I am sure my previous recordings of this pushes big Al's guitar to the fore with quite piercing lead to the detriment of the backing. Here the mix is perfect. The cd opens up like a huge Amtrac powering up and slowly pulling out of Chicago for Memphis it then skips along for the next two tracks before thundering into "Oh Pretty Woman" - one of the highlights not just of this cd but of Al's whole repertoire. And so it goes on with one gold nugget after another.

I have slight reservations over tracks seven (a flute!!) and eleven but not enough to change the five stars and in any case who would begrudge big Al changing style briefly to open himself up to another audience. He still had to make a living.

I came late to these remasters because I already had these recordings both in LP and cd format and with so many other artists to add to my collection I questioned the logic in buying yet another version. I am so glad I did!
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