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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Albert Collins: The Iceman At Mount Fuji


1) Iceman; 2) Put The Shoe On The Other Foot; 3) Lights Are On But Nobody's Home; 4) If You Love Me Like You Say; 5) Same Old Thing; 6) Travelin' South; 7) Iceman; 8) Put The Shoe On The Other Foot; 9) Lights Are On But No­body's Home; 10) Honey Hush; 11) Same Old Thing; 12) Frosty.

We say goodbye to «Master of the Telecaster» with this archive release, available both on CD and DVD, that captures a smokin' August 1992 performance at the Mt. Fuji Jazz Festival, on the sweet banks of Lake Yamanaka. (Another archival CD/DVD product from the same time is Live At Montreux, but, since bits of that performance had already been previously released on Live '92-'93, dedicating special space to it would be overkill).

Albert played two relatively brief sets that day, both of which are included on the CD and may be discomforting for the novice — to a large extent, they are identical, except for two songs (and even then, 'Travelin' South' and 'Frosty' are both fast boogies, and 'If You Love Me...' and 'Honey Hush' are both mid-tempo blues-rock) and a slightly extended and more aggressive 'Iceman' in the second set. Considering that all of this material had already been played for the '92-'93 shows, the album is clearly redundant.

I wish I could say that these performances blow the US live tracks away, but, frankly, they don't — they are equally good, no more, no less. It is unfair to say that Collins' playing style did not change over the years. Comparing these fast, complex, and quite modern-sounding bursts of licks to the much simpler, much less developed (but always inventive) style of his late 1950s / early 1960s playing, it is nothing short of amazing how easily he made the transgression from «Fifties electric blues player» to «rock era electric blues player», one of the very, very few veterans of his generation to be able to manage that (in a way, not even B. B. King, in all of his lifetime, had ma­naged to truly break the chains that tied him to his formative years).

But there is a limit to any kind of evolution, and where you can expect from, say, Eric Clapton to play at least something different every night — to add up an unpredictable twist or two on the spur of the particular moment (not that it always happens, mind you, but you are entitled to ex­pect it) — you cannot expect it from The Iceman, who simply goes out on tour and delivers what he is used to delivering. Not to mean that these solos are note-for-note identical with '92-'93, but what kind of an obsessed maniac would really want to compare them note-for-note?

In short, if you already have '92-'93, don't bother with the CD (the DVD might be fun, though). If you don't, and Mt. Fuji, being the more recent issue of the two, is lying close at hand, go for it, but keep in mind that you are really getting six songs (okay, eight at most) for the price of twelve.

Check "The Ice Man At Mount Fuji" (CD) on Amazon

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