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Reviews: Albert King: I’ll Play the Blues for You

Reviews: 4

Review by analogue March 9, 2009 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I really enjoy this sacd from start to finish every single time I take it out for a listen. It's like a breath of fresh air because of it's warmth. It's bluesy, soulful and actually a little humourous. Albert King could really play and his voice was something to be felt and heard. This album is not very heavy in the blues department. As I said there is also some humour to be had. It's mostly a laid back listen but certain tracks are powerful because of King's playing and the emotion he conjures up.

The back up musicians I believe are from the Stax studio so the sound is really warm and vibrant. On this sacd both King's voice, his great guitar playing with all it;s squeals and crying notes can be heard in excellent sound. The high notes are rendered very nicely too.So to can you easilly groove to the back up instruments as well. It's easy to relax and groove to this sacd with or without headphones.

This is a very good recording and this sacd is an audio treat. But you have to like either this album or the blues in general to really appreciate the life blood of this album.

Great job from Fantasy and highly recommended.

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Review by Oakland July 22, 2010
Performance:   Sonics:
I had intended to play my newly received Bach 6 Suites for Cello SACD played by Hidemi Suzuki. But today two of my sons and their friends were in and out of the house (summer jobs are scarce these days), disturbing the peace. So classical music was not an option. So, I did an eeny meeny miny mo and picked Albert King's "I’ll Play the Blues for You". Whoa! I'm glad I did.

Here we have a funky down home Mississippi twang from a blues master that “lived it”, but also importantly, who *taught it* to others. For example, he provided inspirational influence to Stevie Ray Vaughan. King plays wicked guitar *throughout* so that it is meaningless to talk about favorites, but he is almost beside himself on “Breaking Up Someone’s Home” and “I’ll Be Doggone”. Coupled with King’s husky vocals that are impassioned and soul piercing there is much here to enjoy. The bookend tracks are the legendary “I’ll Play the Blues for You” and “Angel of Mercy”. You can’t ask for much more. (Only “Born Under a Bad Sign” is missing among my personal favorites). All cuts in between bring plenty to the table; we are talking soul food to the max, a complete well-seasoned 8-course meal. But one that is palatable not only to zealous blues (and blues guitar) enthusiasts, but, I believe, also fully accessible to those who are only casual blues fans (yours truly).

OK, so you have a near in his prime King guitar and vocals. But it does not end there. Providing stirring and soulful back up to King you have arguably some of the “definers” of the “Memphis Sound” (Stax Records), including the Bar-Kays. It’s true that by the time this album was recorded (1972) the stability of Stax house band line had probably began to waver a bit from the hey day late 60’s, but it sure sounds authentic Stax to me. For example, that gospel sounding Hammond in the background, if it’s not Booker T, its probably Isaac Hayes. Take your pick. Whomever, the musicianship for all the sidemen is top tier.

What about the sound? Well, as great as the music and performances are, the sound quality, too, is front seat caliber. The sound is certainly 4 to 4.5 stars with a demerit or two warranted in that the sound stage lacks the nth degree of accuracy. There is a slight tinge of “early stereo” left-center-right localization (even though by this time stereo had been around 15 years). Not much mind you, but enough to notice if you are wearing your audiophile cap. Likewise, the sound stage comes up a bit short with respect to instrument “depth”. Again an audiophile quibble. My sound quality standard for blues/R&B vocals (actually any vocal) and sidemen musicianship remains Mighty Sam McClain’s “Soul Survivor”, that has been a personal demonstration disc for me since becoming one of my early SACD purchases.

The dearth of quality and quantity of SACDs outside of the classical and jazz genre, most oft mentioned Rock, has been sharply voiced in SA-CD circles and for very palpable reasons. The lack of a wide tent of music selection has deeply wounded SACD chances for market success. I'm sure we can all make our individual cases for genre that is sorely lacking in SACD. But, in my opinion, no stronger case can be made than for R&B and Blues that unquestionably have been pitifully neglected. But Albert King's "I’ll Play the Blues for You", that includes some of the core indispensables of "Memphis Soul" makes for a bonus that is bona fide.

Count me among the 11 out of 11 here at that recommend this outstanding release.

Robert C. Lang

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Review by Ritmoman77 June 7, 2011 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Great sounding sacd, one of the best blues sacds I've heard. The mix is clean, good stereo separation with the bass on one side, bass drum on the other, other rhythm and horns panned out from center, with King's guitar and vocal in the middle. The guitar is bitingly, searingly clear, almost stinging your ears! No unintended distortion could I hear. Solid performances throughout. "Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home" is my favorite. I wish Fantasy had done more reissues of Stax recordings. My system consists of Meadowlark Osprey speakers, Audioromy FU 13 set amp, Esoteric SA-60 player, with a Promitheus passive turned all the way up, now being used as a input switch.

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Review by Ricoflashback August 7, 2013
Performance:   Sonics:
Excellent recording - great backup vocals, horn section and overall mixing. You can't miss Albert's twang guitar and vocal style. Some real classic cuts - "Little Brother" and "Answer to the Laundromat Blues."

OK - not exactly politically correct but when Albert starts weaving a story during a song, it's magic. I'm not sure what piano is being used in the mix - (Wurlizter - Fender Rhodes?) on the right channel during "Laundromat Blues," but it's incredible. Sounds like the same piano from Ray Charles, "Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand."

A very clean remastering with superb vocals and back up artists contributing to the Albert King sound. A true legend and this SACD hits the mark.

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