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"...Hard Luck And Trouble..." Born Under A Bad Sign by ALBERT KING (2013 "Stax Remasters" CD)
on 19 August 2014
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)