ALBERT COLLINS: FROZEN ALIVE! (1981)
1) Frosty; 2) Angel Of Mercy; 3) I Got That Feeling; 4) Caldonia; 5) Things I Used To Do; 6) Got A Mind To Travel; 7) Cold Cuts.
Clean, well-recorded, concise, diverse, up to the point, this just might be the ultimate Albert Collins live experience, recorded during a several-night stand at the Union Bar in Minneapolis, in a setting ideally suited for Albert Collins the small-club guy — one cannot see it, unfortunately, but during some of the songs he would stroll up to an occasional table or two and sit with the customers while playing. Now that's what I call real «audience participation» — none of that «Houston are you ready to rock» crap.
The setlist is limited to seven numbers, but all of Albert's sides are duly represented. The kick-ass guitar monster is out there on the lead-in number, his old hit 'Frosty', and 'Got A Mind To Travel', by the end of which he has all but set fire to the instrument in one of blues-rock's classiest cases of «tension build-up». The slow-burning blues thing is dealt with on 'Angel Of Mercy'. The funk is taken care of on 'I Got That Feeling'. The retro boogie schtick is delivered on 'Caldonia'. Yer old-time R'n'B, horns and all, is served with 'Things I Used To Do'. And, finally, just so you'll always remember that the man's backing band is no slouch, either, bass player Johnny B. Gayden is allowed a lengthy — and fairly awesome — bass solo on the album closer, 'Cold Cuts', during which he goes from funk to jazz to rumba to a few other places, truly entertaining the dazzled audience rather than just showing off his technical skills.
If this isn't an all-time classic, it is merely for the fact that Albert is not equally good at all those different things he does — only the last two numbers, with the insane soloing on 'Got A Mind' and the bassist's spot, are what I'd label «jaw-dropping». And you would probably have to be there to feel the full impact of the happening. But if you are considering a limited collection of Collins-related material, Frozen Alive! should still be one of the few first choices. At the very least, it is recorded in far superior quality to Alive & Cool, even despite the barroom ambience. Thus, thumbs up with no further questions asked.
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