on 21 November 2003
Critics and fans alike have always placed Albert King's live recordings atop or near the top of the heap of live Blues albums and rightfully so. King's seminal live outing was Live Wire/Blues Power, which was highlighted by the ten minute plus "Blues Power" - arguably the most spectacular and engaging live track ever recorded by a lead guitarist.
But to me, the rest of that album, as well as the companion albums released afterwards called Wednesday and Thursday Night in San Francisco (all three continue to be lauded till this day), aren't nearly as great as they could and should be, and not nearly as consistent and fresh as the song "Blues Power" itself.
Blues At Sunrise should not be overlooked. It is one of King's very best. He has a very solid backing band that does an excellent job of recreating the soulful grooves that came out of King's record label, Stax in Memphis.
You will always have room in your collection for another live version of "I'll Play the Blues For You", and this one doesn't disappoint. King's guitar doesn't really blow you away (at least compared to playing in front of San Francisco Rock fans), instead his playing, and his criminally underrated singing, is about as soulful as you will ever hear it. He and this band really groove to songs like "Little Brother (Make a Way)" and a great, great remake of Ray Charles's "I Believe To My Soul", a song he actually cut in the studio with Booker T. & the MGs that must have somehow inexplicably been forgotten about because it didn't show up until years later when the United Kingdom's Ace Records released some Albert King bonus tracks.
This album proves that Albert was THE king of the Blues, not just because of his Blues power (which remember, he invented), but because of his use of dynamics, subtlety, and the fact that you will be hard pressed to find another guitarist so powerful, but yet so tasteful. In 1973, the crowd at the Montreux Jazz Festival was right there for one of the most infectious and joyful Albert King performances ever captured.
on 15 December 2005
I just listened to this album again for the first time in years and have just about snapped my guitar neck from trying to squeeze the notes from it like that man could. Albert King was able to get the most killer and distinctive tone out of his axe(ax?)and with the great sound on this set, with the guitar way up there in the mix, it will you square in the chest and have you wincing like you're sucking on a lemon. Or a lime. Yes, really that good! The singing carries as much power but is so beautifully controlled. He really can sing as well as he plays. Great songs on here, and a bit of variety too. You have some get-on-down funky stuff on here like 'Don't Burn Down The Bridge' which is even better if you imagine big Albert King dancing around to it, and the head-back note-bending things like 'I Believe To My Soul' and 'Roadhouse Blues'. Just magic, and you can hear Albert enjoying the sound of himself hitting an on-the-money note. Woooh! The band is super-tight and the whole sound is super-warm and when they finish up with 'Little Brother' you'll be in a groove you just don't wanna get out of.