ALBERT KING: LOVEJOY (1971)
1) Honky Tonk Women; 2) Bay Area Blues; 3) Corrina, Corrina; 4) She Caught The Katy (And Left Me A Mule To Ride); 5) For The Love Of A Woman; 6) Lovejoy, Ill.; 7) Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven; 8) Going Back To Iuka; 9) Like A Road Leading Home.
Is it interesting to hear Albert King's take on the Rolling Stones? I have my doubts. Earlier, the Rolling Stones took the blues and turned it into sweaty rock'n'roll; now King is taking their sweaty rock'n'roll back from them and turning it back into the blues. His fluid, tasteful solo is definitely superior to Keith Richards' in terms of technical skill, but Keith Richards' solo on 'Honky Tonk Women' is the heart and soul of the Rolling Stones, and Albert King's solo on his cover version is — well, just another Albert King solo.
On the other hand, at least this cover version is curious enough to merit a special review paragraph: most of the other tunes here are impossible to describe in any terms that are different from the ones used previously. That does not mean that the playing is bad or boring — on the contrary, Lovejoy is simply another excellent King record from his peak years. Rocking and occasionally ironic: 'Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven' is certainly remarkable not for using the exact same melody as 'Have You Ever Loved A Woman', but for following the title up with the sly remark — '...but nobody wants to die'.
The only big surprise comes at the end, with a «neo-gospel» ballad ('Like A Road Leading Home') where Albert tries something that he had never done before — singing and playing with a «tender soul» approach, more common on country-rock records by idealistic young whitebread snappers than on old burnt-out blues guys' contributions. However, atypical as this approach is for Albert, he pulls the deal off splendidly, and non-jaded listeners may even shed a tear or two over his plea of 'turn around, turn around, turn around and I'll be there', or over the closing passionate guitar solo, or even over the female backing vocals.
Other than that, just dig in. There are some cool, light-headed, loose funky jams worth any music lover's time — heck, almost anything with Booker T. & The MGs on it is worth any music lover's time. Thumbs up, although this is becoming a routine thing.