Albert King

Band members                              Related acts

- Albert King (aka Albert Nelson) (RIP 1992) -- vocals, guitar


  backing musicians (1976)

- Jeanie Arnold -- backing vocals

- Bert de Coteaux -- keyboards

- Henry Davis -- bass

- King Errisson -- percussion

- Dee Ervin -- backing vocals

- Bobby Fender -- guitar

- James Gadson -- drums, percussion

- Lani Groves -- backing vocals

- Jerry Peters -- keyboards

- Greg Poree -- guitar

- Charles Rainey -- bass

- Joe Sample -- keyboards

- Julia Tillman -- backing vocals

- Wa Wa Watsou -- guitar

- Eniece Williams -- backing vocals

- Maxine Willard -- backing vocals


  backing musicians 

- Leroy Breaux -- drums. percussion

- Robert Dabon -- keyboards

- June Gardner -- drums 

- Leo Noncentelli - guitar 

- George Porter Jr. -- bass

- Wardell Querzergue -- keyboards 

- Allen Toussaint -- keyboards 

- Charles Williams -- drums 

- Kenneth Williams -- percussion



Cropper, Steve (Albert King and Pops Staples





Genre: blues

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  I'll Play the Blues For You

Company: Stax

Catalog: STS 3009

Year: 1972

Country/State: Indianola, Mississippi

Grade (cover/record): VG+/ VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1459

Price: $40.00


I'll readily admit I'm not the biggest blues fans you'll ever meet.  That said, Albert King remains one of the exceptions to the rule.  King was clearly a giant in the blues genre, but as displayed on 1972's "I'll Play the Blues For You", he also had an interest and affinity for soul.  


Co-produced by Allen Jones and Henry Bush, this collection was one of King's most consistent and enjoyable albums.  With backing from various Stax sessions players, including The Bar-Kays and Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson (The Memphis Horns), King seldom hit as comfortable a groove, easily moving between hardcore blues and soul numbers.  His stinging guitar playing remained impeccable; nowhere near as flashy as some of his contemporaries, but always tasteful and economical.   He also had one of the best blues voices you've ever heard.   Highlights abounded including the extended title track, the single 'Breaking Up Somebody's Home', 'I'll Be Doggone', and King's subtle stab at social commentary 'Little Brother'.   It's literally a blues album for folks who don't like the blues.  


"I'll Play the Blues for You" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I'll Play the Blues for You (Parts I and II)   (Jerry Beach) - 7:20

I'll readily admit I'm not a big hardcore blues fan, but 'I'll Play the Blues for You' was one of those exceptions with King turning in a track that was simultaneously bluesy, yet contemporary and accessible.  Yeah, the extended pick-up rap was a bit on the cheesy side, but when he actually sang and started to showcase his guitar, King demonstrated why he was one of the best of the breed.  Shame the song faded out just as he was beginning to really loosen up.  YouTube has a stunning live performance of the tune and while It isn't credited, I think it's from the 1972 Wattstax concert :    Stax tapped it as the album's second single:




- 1972's 'I'll Play the Blues for You Pt. I' b/w 'Pt. II' (Stax catalog number STA-0136)   rating: **** stars

2.) Little Brother   (Henry Bush - J. Jones - Clifton William Smith) - 2:49

To my ears 'Little Brother' has always reminded me of a good Staples Singer tune. It was a sweet and breezy track that was actually more soul-tinged than bluesy.  King wasn't particularly known for his activist views, but with a subtle empowerment lyric it was hard not to love this one.   rating: **** stars

3.) Breaking Up Somebody's Home   (Al Timothy Jackson - Raymond Matthews) - 7:19

Ann Peebles had the hit version, and as much as I've always loved King's voice, this classic tune's true charms came out of James Alexander's killer bass line and a wonderful performance by The Memphis Horns.  Stax tapped the song as the album's third single:


- 1972's 'Breaking Up Somebody's Home' b/w 'Little Brother' (Stax catalog number STA 0147)   rating: **** stars

4.) High Cost of Loving  (Sherwin Halmett - Allen A. Jones) - 2:56

If you've never gotten King's appeal, this might be a good place to check him out.  That voice; that slashing guitar ...   rating: **** stars


(side 2)
1.) I'll Be Doggone   (Pete Moore - Smokey Robinson - Marvin Tarplin) - 5:41

I'll always love the Marvin Gaye version, but kudos to King for giving the tune a mesmerizing Stax feel.  Another track that showcased The Bar Kays as backing band with James Alexander turning in a  blazing bass line.   No idea why King decided to slap the audience sounds on the track to give the tune a faux live feeling.  Take it to the bridge Albert ...    rating: **** stars

2.) Answer To the Laundromat Blues  ( Albert King) - 4:37

A rare King original, 'Answer To the Laundromat Blues' was apparently intended as an "answer" tune to his earlier 'Laundromat Blues'.  Musically it was kind of a pedestrian blues number with a highly chauvinist lyric that probably didn't win King a lot of friends in the feminist community. I'm sure it was meant to be funny, but I guess the humor hasn't aged that well over the ensuing years.    Lots of folks love it, but it just didn't do a great deal for me.  rating: *** stars

3.) Don't Burn Down the Bridge (Cause You Might Wanna Come Back Across)  (J. Jones - Carl Wells) - 5:07

Blues for folks who don't really like the blues ...  'Don't Burn Down the Bridge (Cause You Might Wanna Come Back Across)' was every bit as funky as the title. Another album highlight with some lyrics that were guaranteed to make you smile.  rating: **** stars

4.) Angel of Mercy   (Homer Banks - Raymond Jackson) - 4:20

Given it was written by Homer Banks and Raymond Jackson, 'Angel of Mercy' was a surprisingly straight forward blues number.  Not that there was anything wrong with it; King wailing out one of his most impressive solos.  Stax tapped it as the leadoff single:




- 1970's 'Angel of Mercy' b/w 'Funky London' (Stax catalog STA 0121)  rating: *** stars


Genre: blues

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Truckload of Lovin'

Company: Utopia

Catalog: BUL1-1387

Year: 1976

Country/State: Indianola, Mississippi

Grade (cover/record): VG+/ VG+

Comments: cutout notch on edge

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2810

Price: $40.00


With Stax going into bankruptcy, Stax artists like Albert King were let to fend for themselves.   King quickly found himself picked up by Kevin Eggers' RCA affiliated Utopia Records.  


Co-produced by Bert De Coteaux and Tony Silvester (misspellled on the album liner notes as "Silvestre"), 1976's "Truckload of Lovin'" found Albert King trying to navigate changing popular tastes. King remained a blues artist at heart, but he was clearly under pressure to sell records.  I'm guessing that's why he opened up his sound to include chirping back-up singers and an ill advised stab at disco-tinged numbers ('Hold Hands with One Another' and 'Cold Women with Warm Hearts').  The other difference was the absence of that unique Stax vibe.  Utopia certainly spent some money recording the album, which included an impressive list of sessions players including guitarist James Gadson, bassist Charles Rainey, and keyboardist Joe Sample, but they just couldn't recreate the Stax groove.  The good news is that at heart this remained a blues album.  The fact of the matter is that if you were buying a King album you already knew what to expect and on tracks like 'Sensation, Communication Together', 'Cadillac Assembly Line', and 'I'm Your Mate' where King was firing on all cylinders, the results were spectacular.  


"Truckload of Lovin'" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Cold Women with Warm Hearts  (Mack Rise) - 4:07  rating: *** stars

'Cold Women with Warm Hearts' was a breezy, if pedestrian, horn-powered number ...  the chirpy backing singers were a bit disconcerting.

2.) Gonna Make It Somehow   (Carl Thomas) - 4:11  rating: *** stars

I'll readily admit I'm frequently guilty of overlooking King's voice.  His low, guttural croak sound quite attractive on 'Gonna Make It Somehow'.  Unfortunately those irritating female backing vocals reappeared on this one.

3.) Sensation, Communication Together   (Mack Rice - Mary Davis) - 7:24   rating;**** stars

'Sensation, Communication Together ' was far from ground breaking, but it offered up everything you looked for in a modern blues song - nice groove; plenty of King solo spots; growling vocals (and thankfully, no chirping back-up singers).  Easily one of the album's high points, Utopia tapped it as the album's sophomore single:

- 1976's 'Sensation, Communication Together' b/w 'Gonna Make It Somehow' (Utopia catalog number UB 10682)

4.) I'm Your Mate   (Eddie Floyd - Henry Hopkins) - 4:39   rating;**** stars

The writing credits and fact it sounded unlike anything else on the album made me wonder 'I'm Your Mate' was a carryover from King's Stax recording catalog.  Opening up with some stinging fuzz guitar, this one just sounded totally unlike anything else on the album.   In this case that was a good thing.  The album's most impressive performance ...  


(side 2)
1.) Truckload of Lovin'   (Jimmy Lewis) - 4:33
  rating: *** stars

King recorded this track numerous times over his career, but this may be the standout version. Again, it was a standard slice of electric blues with a set of funny double entendre lyrics and a nice example of King's growling voice.

2.) Hold Hands with One Another  (Bobby Eli - Terry Collins) - 4:56  rating: ** stars

Damn, when did I put on the Harold Melvin and the Blue  Notes album ?  As mentioned 'Hold Hands with One Another' was one of the disco--tinged numbers.   You clearly couldn't blame King for trying to pay his bills and he did turn in a nice solo on this one, but otherwise this was simply horrible.  Mindless disco that was totally inappropriate for the blue sman.  The addition of Jeanie Arnold's screechy vocals made it even worse.  Hold hands with the people who made King record this one?  Hell no ....

3. Cadillac Assembly Line   (Mack Rice) - 4:52   rating;**** stars

For folks who don't think King recorded a classic song after he left Stax, they might want to check out 'Cadillac Assembly Line'.  Not only did he recorded a killer version of the song, but in under five minutes he managed to capture one of the country's largest and most important demographic, social, and economic changes - impoverished Americans moving out of the South to upper midwest manufacturing industries.  The song was also tapped as the album's lead off single:

- 1977's 'Cadillac Assembly Line' b/w 'Nobody Wants a Loser' (Utopia catalog number UB 10544)   YouTube has King playing the tune at a 1980 performance in Sweden.  The immediate impressions were simply how big King was and what a "large" sound he got out of his amp:  

4.) Nobody Wants a Loser   (Herman Kelly) - 5:00  rating: *** stars

Herman Kelly's lyrics were right on the mark ...   LOL  King had the perfect voice and style to deliver this lesson of life.   Turning in one his most fluid leads certainly helped.  



The marketing history on this one is a bit of a mystery to me.  Eggers' relationship with RCA apparently came to a quick end with the man setting up his own Tomato label, which in 1978 reissued the album with the same cover and track listing (Tomato catalog number TOM 6002).




Genre: blues

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  King Albert

Company: Tomato

Catalog: TOM-6002

Year: 1977

Country/State: Indianola, Mississippi

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5061

Price: $15.00

Cost: $2.00


The mid-1970s were a tough time for soul and rhythm and blues artists.  Seduced by mindless disco madness American audiences simply wanted nothing to do with a national treasure like Albert King.  Against such a backdrop you can begin to understand why an R&B giant like King would cut an album like 1977's "King Albert".  Produced by Don Davis, I guess you can call this a blues album, though a disproportionate number of the songs reflected an obvious attempt to connect with modern audiences ... yes tracks like 'Love' and 'Chump Change' found King embracing dreaded disco and funk moves.  'Course when you've got bills to pay, you do what you gotta do ...  So was there anything here to salvage the album?  Well, at least 'You Upset Me Baby', 'Boot Lace' and 'Good Time Charlie' were decent blues efforts showcasing King's nifty growling voice and his instantly recognizable single string guitar stylings.  Hardly his crowning creative achievement, but then as I said, the man had to pay his bills.  Tomato actually tapped the LP for a  pair of singles:


- 1978's 'Love Shock' b/w 'Call My Job' (Tomato catalog number TM-10001 A /B)

- 1978's 'Chump Change' b/w 'Good Time Charlie' (Tomato catalog number TOM-10002 A /B)



"King Albert" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Love Shock   (Aaron Willis) - 4:40

2.) You Upset Me Baby   (J. Josea - Maxwell Davis) - 4:15

3.) Chump Change   (Barry Murphy - Eric Morgeson) - 3:40

4.) Let Me Rock You Easy   (Norma Toney) - 4:56


(side 2)
1.) Boot Lace   (William Mueller) - 5:55

2.) Love Mechanic   (Aaron Willis) - 4:01

3.) Call My Job   (Al Perkins) - 4:27

4.) Good Time Charlie   (Willie Schofield) - 4:45





Genre: blues

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  New Orleans Heat

Company: Tomato

Catalog: TOM-7702

Year: 1978

Country/State: Indianola, Mississippi

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5522

Price: $10.00


In theory a collaboration between Albert King and Allen Toussaint should have been a major pleasure.  Blending King's R&B roots with Toussaint's Crescent City moves should have resulted in some interesting directions.  Sadly, 1978's "New Orleans Heat" was a flat out disappointment. With Toussaint producing, playing keyboards, and contributing a couple of songs to the sessions, there was plenty of talent here, but for some reason the two stars never seemed to click.  Surrounded by shrill female chorus and heavy-handed arrangements, King was frequently all but invisible.  The opener 'Get Out of My Life Woman' was a perfect example of those shortcomings.  King's vocal was weak and his two solos simply didn't generate much heat.  Things didn't get much better with a needless remake of King's best known song -t 'Born Under a Bad Sign'.   A horn arrangement and female backing singers didn't do anything to improve what was a classic slice of R&B.  The original was simply superior in every respect.  To be blunt, the musical cross pollination really only worked on one track - Leo Niocentelli's 'I Got the Blues' managed to meld Kings blues roots with a funky New Orleans base, though stretched out over nine minutes it was way too long.  King also turned in his best solo on that song.  The other track worth hearing was the bluesy 'The Feeling'.   Not to sound snotty, but I'm not sure using the picture of a sweaty guy was the greatest marketing move on Tomato's part ...  For some reason Tomato picked two of the weakest songs as singles:


- 1978's 'The Very Thought of You' b/w 'I Get Evil'  (Tomato catalog number TOM-10004 A /B)

- 1979's 'Born Under a Bad Sign' b/w 'I Got the Blues'  (Tomato catalog number TOM-10012 A /B)


"New Orleans Heat" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Get Out of My Life Woman   (Allen Toussaint) - 3:40

2.) Born Under a Bad Sign   (Booker T. Jones - William Bell) - 3:27

3.) The Feeling   (Larry Hamilton) - 4:57

4.) We All Wanna Boogie   (Allen Toussaint) - 3:14

5.) The Very Thought of You   (Roy Noble) - 4:15


(side 2)
1.) I Got the Blues   (Leo Niocentelli) - 9:06

2.) I Get Evil   (Albert King) - 3:57

3.) Angel of Mercy   (Homer Banks - Raymond Jackson) - 5:53

4.) Flat Tire   (Albert King) - 2:49


Suffering a massive heart attack, King died December 1992.