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Monday, October 19, 2009

Albert King: King Albert


1) Love Shock; 2) You Upset Me Baby; 3) Chump Chance; 4) Let Me Rock You Easy; 5) Boot Lace; 6) Love Mechanic; 7) Call My Job; 8) Good Time Charlie.

May actually be a slight improvement over the last two efforts. At least this time around there are no outward embarrassments: the pure blues quotient is raised in comparison to the funk/disco component, and even for the funk/disco component, they make a half-hearted, ultimately unsuc­cessful, but nevertheless honest attempt to bring it closer to the steamy-smoky sound of King's mid-Seventies Stax releases — with a little less gloss and a little less coke-soaked happiness.

Even so, it is hard to find a single song worth including on any representative retrospective com­pi­­la­tion. Maybe 'Good Time Charlie', a soul-blues number that finishes the album on a slightly more elevated note than everything else. It only has a brief guitar solo, with the rest of the song dedicated to Albert's impersonating a little emotional drama, and although by his highest stan­dards this is absolutely forgettable, it sounds tremendously humane next to all these mechanical creations like 'Chump Chance' or 'Love Mechanic'.

The really sad thing is that there is no feeling of the guitar as the album-driving instrument — and what, may I ask, is the point of listening to a non-guitar-centered Albert King record? Obviously, he soloes on every track, but either the solos are short, or they are drowned out in the mix; and even when they are not, they are so pro forma that you just can tell exactly how much King actually cared for this material. Not one bit. Thumbs down.

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