Across every musical style there are unheralded artists, performers who often didn't receive their due recognition until late in their careers or posthumously. I think in some ways Albert King falls into this category, certainly amongst up and coming guitar players he was greatly admired but he never attained the cross over success that someone like B.B King achieved. King's style was appreciated by the likes of Eric Clapton, Robbi Robertson and Jimi Hendrix to name a few, he had that distinctive sharp wail, where the note is accentuated until nothing further can be wrought from it, very similar to the early sound of Robbie Robertson.
King was born in the same town that gave us B.B King, Indianola, Mississppi but he grew up across the border in Arkansas, that great hotbed of music. He cut some sides for Parrott records around 1953, by the late 50's he was working in St Louis where he started recording for the local Bobbin record label. Some of these session were later leased to King Records. In 1962 King cut the single I Get Evil b/w What Can I Do To Change Your Mind the A side is a superb low down funky R&B number with a heavy latin style backbeat. The song kicks off with a fierce solo from King, it sounds like he is bending the strings until they almost break, stretching each note for as far as it will go. He is equally matched by the piano, with that stomping heavy left hand blues style, lots of incendiary flourishes, especially in the break where King appears happy to sit back and let the pianist set the tone. As you would expect with a seasoned R&B performer the rhythm section is solid, the latin beat is employed at a frenetic pace with some of those nice ham fisted double eight rolls employed for good measure. Most of the Bobbin session were released as the album The Big Blues in 1962 on the King label, it certainly would rank up there as one of the great R&B albums.
The B side What Can I Do To Change Your Mind is a slow burn blues song similar to what you might hear from a B.B King or Otis Rush. You hear more of Albert King's style on this track, it shares some similarities with B.B King, I love the way he can bend those strings he gets the most out of solos. With these players there wasn't much room for lengthy jams on record so they had to economical with what they played, that disciplined style of playing got a little lost in the late 60's as it became almost expected that guitarists would solo for what seemed interminably long periods of time. King would find more success when he eventually landed at Stax around 1966 and cut the seminal Born Under A Bad Sign, he also cut the brilliant Blues Power live album at the Fillmore East in 1968 which also enhanced his reputation. I picked up a compilation More Big Blues which is basically a reissue of the original album minus two tracks from Hound Dogs Bop Shop, another worthwhile purchase!