Thanks in large part to rock guitarists such as Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, by the late 60s a new and wider appreciation emerged for the previous generation of black American blues musicians. Prominent among them was Albert King, who had moved to Memphis, signed with the Stax label, and recorded a series of singles with the unbeatable house band of Booker T. and the MGs and the Memphis Horns. As such, 1967’s Born Under a Bad Sign is a satisfying if spotty collection. Some of the tracks seem like toss-offs—“Kansas City,” “The Hunter,” and “The Very Thought of You.” But others, such as the title track, “Crosscut Saw,” and King’s smokin’ take on “Oh, Pretty Woman” point towards Side 2, which really catches fire with King’s soulful vocals and stinging blues licks on the mournful “I Almost Lost My Mind,” the amusingly delicious “Personal Manager,” “Laundromat Blues,” and the exquisite “As The Years Go Passing By.” The stereo sound is pretty much perfect for the music—clean, direct, nicely balanced, nothing fancy, certainly not “audiophile,” yet with a nice snap that allows this 11-song set to strut its (mostly) rather delightful stuff.
By Wayne Garcia
Although I’ve been a wine merchant for the past decade, my career in audio was triggered at age 12 when I heard the Stones’ Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! blasting from my future brother-in-law’s giant home-built horn speakers. The sound certainly wasn’t sophisticated, but, man, it sure was exciting.More articles from this editor
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