Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

ALBERT KING WITH STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN

In Session

2011-02-15

Review by Steven “Nick” Nickelson of In Session...By Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan. This weighty duo explodes with sounds right from the “git-go” that seem to span thirty years and make it seem like it was recorded yesterday – this music and these masters are simply timeless. Recorded on December 6th in 1983 at the Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) independent radio station CHCH, the student (Stevie Ray Vaughan) and mentor (Albert King) and his solid backing band of Tony Llorens on keyboards, Bub Thornton on bass and Michael LLorens on drums, deliver a tight set of songs that rock the house right from the get go with the opening scorcher “Call It Stormy Monday.” Classic hits like “Don't Lie To Me” and Vaughan's signature song, “Pride and Joy,” are opened up for extended jamming between the musicians. The latter clocks in at over eight minutes as King/Vaughan decide to riff off each other on what blues rock guitar sounds like. While the album may appear to look short with just 7 songs on it, in actuality, none of them clock in at under five minutes. I'd have to say one of my favorite cuts on this remastered cd (and the longest, clocking at over 15 minutes) is “Blues At Sunrise”; but I get so absorbed into the music that I completely lose track of the time. What you get on In Session... is a real concert experience (albeit in the CHCH studio). You may not be able to see each pained expression King gives when making his upside down Gibson Flying V sing, but you can feel the passion from his playing on every track. Even though it is half as long, the jump jive “Overall Junction” is so hot that I don't even need earmuffs when I'm out in the cold walking. This is one tight set! Another bonus: between scorching tracks there is some back and forth banter between the student (now deceased guitar god from Texas), and the mentor (now deceased member of the blues King triumvirate {Albert, B.B., Freddie} from the cotton fields of Indianola, Mississippi). Although Albert was never recognized as the King of the Blues (that title belonged to B.B.), his string bending and blues stylings have influenced the next generation of rock and blues axemen. --------------- Nick

Artist Bio: Albert King signed with Stax Records in 1966. Albert's records for Stax would bring him stardom, both within blues and rock circles. All of his '60s Stax sides were recorded with the label's house band, Booker T. & the MG's, which gave his blues a sleek, soulful sound. That soul underpinning gave King crossover appeal, as evidenced by his R&B chart hits -- "Laundromat Blues" (1966) and "Cross Cut Saw" (1967) both went Top 40, while "Born Under a Bad Sign" (1e967) charted in the Top 50. Furthermore, King's style was appropriated by several rock & roll players, most notably Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, who copied Albert's "Personal Manager" guitar solo on the Cream song, "Strange Brew." Albert King's first album for Stax, 1967's Born Under a Bad Sign, was a collection of his singles for the label and became one of the most popular and influential blues albums of the late '60s. Beginning in 1968, Albert King was playing not only to blues audiences, but also to crowds of young rock & rollers. He frequently played at the Fillmore West in San Francisco and he even recorded an album, Live Wire/Blues Power, at the hall in the summer of 1968. King was a left-handed "upside-down/backwards" guitarist. He was left-handed, but usually played right-handed guitars flipped over upside-down so the low E string was on the bottom. In later years he played a custom-made guitar that was basically left-handed, but had the strings reversed (as he was used to playing). He also used very unorthodox tunings (i.e., tuning as low as C to allow him to make sweeping string bends). Some believe that he was using open E minor tuning (C-B-E-G-B-E) or open F tuning (C-F-C-F-A-D). A "less is more" type blues player, he was known for his expressive "bending" of notes, a technique characteristic of blues guitarists. Stevie Ray Vaughan was born on October 3 1954 ,in the Oak Cliff Section of Dallas Texas. He was the younger brother of Jimmie Vaughan (born March 20, 1951) and the son of Jim and Martha Vaughan. In 1963 at the age of 8, Stevie began playing the guitar (under brother Jimmie's influence ), and was playing in local teen combos a few years later. Stevie didn't do well in high school, as He would sit at the back of the classroom and doze off due to his playing music all night. As a result, his grades suffered. In 1972, Stevie dropped out of high school and moved to Austin Texas to play music full-time. Doyle Bramhall, a songwriting partner of Stevie's and longtime friend, was the first one to tell Stevie that he had potential as a guitar player. On December 20 1979, Stevie married Lenora (Lenny) Baily in between sets of a gig at the Rome Inn in Austin Texas. Sometime later Stevie wrote an awesome instrumental song and titled it "Lenny". 1982 proved to be Stevie's most eventful year. David Bowie saw him at the Montreaux Festival and asked him to play on Bowie's LET'S DANCE album. Also, Jackson Browne gave him studio time at his Studio in Los Angeles. In addition,John Hammond from Epic Records signed Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble to their label. This was the beginning of Stevie's worldwide touring and international stardom. In 1986, LIVE ALIVE was released. Later that year, Stevie entered rehabilitation to rid himself of his drug problems. He stayed away from people who could supply him with drugs, and rebuilt his relationship with his mother Martha. Stevie remained sober and drug free for the rest of his life. In 1987, Stevie appeared in a movie called Back to the Beach as himself. In the movie, he played a duet with Dick Dale and they performed the song "Pipeline". Also in 1987, Stevie filed for a divorce from Lenny. In 1989, IN STEP was released. Stevie also toured with Jeff Beck, and recorded his 2nd Austin City Limits performance. Both Austin City Limits performances were released some time later on a single video called LIVE FROM AUSTIN TEXAS. In 1990, Stevie toured with Joe Cocker, and recorded FAMILY STYLE with his brother Jimmie. On August 27 1990 Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash right after leaving a concert he performed with Robert Cray, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and his brother Jimmy held at Alpine Valley, Wisconsin. His music and spirit will live on FOREVER.

Quick Links:

More reviews tagged #Blues

  • reviewed 09/2011

    ANA POPOVIC
    Unconditional

  • reviewed 11/2010

    THE HOMEMADE JAMZ BLUES BAND
    THE GAME

  • reviewed 10/2008

    JIMMY THACKERY & THE DRIVERS
    – Inside Tracks

  • reviewed 04/2012

    JAMIE MCCLEAN BAND
    Sunday Morning

  • reviewed 09/2011

    SUGAR BLUE
    Threshold

  • reviewed 06/2007

    Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges
    Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges

Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.