Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Of course, I've rarely been posting album reviews lately, but I intend to pay more attention to that in the future. We all know what the road to hell is paved with, don't we?

In any event, a favorite album of mine is Albert King's Born Under A Bad Sign. Released in 1967 and recorded by an all star band, the title song soon became a classic and was covered by Cream a year later to great success. See below for a great and informative wiki post on the album.

Along with Albert's stellar guitar playing, the band featured soon to become legends Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Al Jackson and Booker T. Jones, collectively known as Booker T. and the M.G.'s.

So right away, with part of the band composed of a serious STAX recording session band that was also a great band in their own right, you know that Albert is gonna get serious on this record. But that's not the only stars on this record.

You've got the guy who in a few years would create the soul music masterpiece SHAFT, Issac Hayes, AND THE MEMPHIS HORNS, who have pretty much played on most of the R&B and Soul records of any significance during the 60's and for decades thereafter.

So there's not a much better band available to a singing, guitar playing star like Albert King in 1967. I mean, if the DNA was analyzed of the band, they would all have heavy groove genes in common.

Like most other white folks my age, I discovered Born Under A Bad Sign via Clapton and Cream a few years after it's release. At some point in the early 80's when Little Screamin' Kenny or in the late-80's through the 90's, Dogman Miller, Teri Greene and Skiles Kelly all guided my knowledge of the blues, exposing me to all kinds of stuff I had never heard or played before. Numerous other folks did also, but not to the extend of these Houston Blues Guitar Greats.

But for some reason, Crosscut Saw and Laundromat Blues, which are blues classics from this album, never hit my listening or playing lists. Part of that might be due to the fact I have a pretty wide range of musical taste and in the 80's was listening to everything current as well as rock music from the 60's and 70's and trying to catch up on the incredible amount of cool blues music that was out there.

But then many years later, taking the stage with a put together blues trio at the 311 Club on East Sixth Street in Austin, a late 20's kid named like played those two numbers with *almost* as much soul as old Albert himself. And that's not something I say lightly and it's said with all due respect to one of the "Three Kings of the Blues Guitar" (Albert, B.B. and Freddy). I had never played the numbers or even heard the songs, but it was no problem playing and I was later pleased when I heard the original that I had the same ideas as Al Jackson and that I came out pretty close to what he originally did. (I record gigs digitally (since 1992) and analog (1982-1992) and listen to them afterwards).

Since then, I actually bought this CD, and now it's one of my favorites. Although many stars would hire part or parts of the great backing band he had on this album, and although many of those acts were fabulously successful, in my opinion few come close to the high energy of this band.

And that's saying something, considering the successful career of The Memphis Horns and Issac Hayes, or the seriously hot Booker T. and the M.G.'s, or even the Blues Brothers with Cropper and the Duck.

Here's a great wiki post:

Born Under a Bad Sign is a blues album by Albert King, recorded between 1966 and 1967, and released in 1967 by Stax Records. This was the first album Albert King recorded on Stax, and the title song became a blues standard. King played a Gibson Flying V through a solid-state Acoustic amplifier; his tone on the second song, "Crosscut Saw," was hailed in 2004 by Guitar Player as one of the "50 Greatest Tones of All Time."[1]

Eric Clapton closely imitated the solo of "Crosscut Saw" for Cream's song "Strange Brew" and the band covered the title song for their 1968 album Wheels of Fire. British band Free covered "The Hunter" on their 1968 debut album Tons Of Sobs, and it was a concert staple of theirs, as seen on their 1971 album Free Live!. In addition, Led Zeppelin incorporated elements of "The Hunter" into "How Many More Times" from their self-titled 1969 debut album. The vocal melody from "As The Years Go Passing By" inspired Duane Allman's composition of the main riff from "Layla" from Derek and the Dominos' Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.[citation needed] Glenn Danzig covered "The Hunter" on Danzig.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 499 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[2]

Track listing

Original release

Side one
Born Under a Bad Sign" (William Bell, Booker T. Jones) – 2:47
Crosscut Saw" (R.G. Ford) – 2:35
Kansas City" (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) – 2:33
"Oh, Pretty Woman" (A.C. Williams) – 2:48
"Down Don't Bother Me" (Albert King) – 2:10
"The Hunter" (
Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Al Jackson, Jr, Booker T. Jones) – 2:45

Side two
I Almost Lost My Mind" (Ivory Joe Hunter) – 3:30
"Personal Manager" (Albert King,
David Porter) – 4:31
"Laundromat Blues" (Sandie Jones) – 3:21
As the Years Go Passing By" (Deadric Malone) – 3:48
The Very Thought of You" (Ray Noble) – 3:46

Vinyl re-issue
In 1998
Sundazed Records reissued the album with two additional bonus tracks, namely the rare mono single sides "Funk-Shun" and "Overall Junction", both written by Albert King. This expanded edition of the album—also featuring original liner notes by Deanie Parker and a new annotation by music critic Bill Dahl—was never released on CD and is available on LP only.

Side one
"Born Under a Bad Sign" (William Bell, Booker T. Jones) – 2:46
"Crosscut Saw" (R.G. Ford) – 2:33
"Kansas City" (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) – 2:31
"Oh, Pretty Woman" (A.C. Williams) – 2:48
"Down Don't Bother Me" (Albert King) – 2:09
"The Hunter" (Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Al Jackson, Jr, Booker T. Jones) – 2:43
"Funk-Shun" (Albert King) - 2:30

Side two
"I Almost Lost My Mind" (Ivory Joe Hunter) – 3:28
"Personal Manager" (Albert King, David Porter) – 4:27
"Laundromat Blues" (Sandie Jones) – 3:18
"As The Years Go Passing By" (Deadric Malone) – 3:47
"The Very Thought of You" (Ray Noble) – 3:46
"Overall Junction" (Albert King) - 2:19

Albert KingElectric guitar and vocals
Steve Cropper – Electric guitar
Booker T. JonesPiano
Isaac Hayes – Piano
Donald "Duck" DunnBass
Al Jackson, Jr.drums
The Memphis HornsHorns

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