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Monday, August 24, 2009

Albert King: The Lost Session


1) She Won't Gimme No Lovin'; 2) Cold In Hand; 3) Stop Lying; 4) All The Way Down; 5) Tell Me What True Love Is; 6) Down The Road I Go; 7) Money Lovin' Women; 8) Sun Gone Down (take 1); 9) Brand New Razor; 10) Sun Gone Down (take 2).

When you're climbing up the rugged heights of that awesome garbage heap called popular music, remember this: not everything that is lost obligatorily deserves to be found. In fact, more often than not there is a pretty good reason for The Thing to have gotten lost. Of course, if you're a sci­entist, this golden rule does not apply in the least — but this is why it would be nice if quite a few of these CDs, instead of silly rating stickers, bore something more informative, like, «FOR HIS­TORICAL RESEARCH AND SEXUAL GRATIFICATION PURPOSES ONLY».

The Lost Session is not even well-qualified for the former. It is simply ten chunks of a lengthy jam that Albert took part in at Wolfman Jack Studios in L. A. in August 1971, in collaboration with British blues guru John Mayall. The liner notes, written by Lee Hildebrand in a very clear and intelligent manner, make the best justification possible for this collaboration, explaining that the gentlemen wanted to do something radically different from Albert's usual Stax style, and that they achieved it by fusing together "Delta blues, British blues, and Los Angeles jazz".

This is a great way of putting it, but I, for one, do not so easily understand the charms of a synthe­sis between "Delta blues" and "British blues", given that the latter is essentially a derived function of the former (so there's something vaguely incestuous about that picture). And as for 'Los Ange­les jazz', it is essentially represented by a couple of sax and trumpet solos on a couple of the jams; they do sound different from the instrumental passages on King's regular albums, but they're hardly more eyebrow-raising than, say, AC/DC's one and only use of bagpipes on one and only one of their songs — and you hardly bought the album for that moment.

So, if the very idea of a partnership between a giant of American and a giant of British blues is enough to get you shaking, feel free to get lost in The Session. But if, overwhelmed by the flood of electric blues albums, you feel more like getting your kicks out of the 'real special' ones, I doubt this archive release passes the test. I cannot even name one particular highlight. Musician­ship is fine, sound is clean, but the thumbs are down all the same. Give me the Stax sound over this unexperimental experiment any time of day.

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