Albert King
" Born Under a Bad Sign "
Concord/Stax Remasters

BluesWax Rating: 7 out of 10

"Should you buy the new remastered, reissued "Born Under A Bad Sign" by the great Albert King? Bob Putignano helps your with the decision!" Chip Eagle for and Blueswax

These Stax Remasters are Great, Especially When It's an Albert King Reissue

think it's safe to say we all know this recording classic from head to toe, this is where Albert King debuted on Stax and was backed by all members of Booker T. & the MG's with the Memphis Horns. Talk about a marriage made in heaven! Early in 2013 Bill Dahl wrote his insightful new set of liner notes, also included are Michael Point's 2002 liners and, of course, the original 1967 liners by Deanie Parker are there; so there's a sixteen-page booklet included, as well as five previously unreleased bonus tracks.

The original LP Born Under a Bad Sign was comprised of eleven tunes, with one King original, "Down Don't Bother Me," though there's one other King/David Porter tune (see below). It's no wonder that this recording was such a success, starting with Booker T.'s and William Bell's title track with those thunderous opening bass lines, that was later covered by Cream. King stamped his signature sound on "Crosscut Saw," as it became one of his many signature tunes. Note how King took the Leiber and Stoller "Kansas City" as uptown-Memphis styled.

And the hits kept on coming with "Oh Pretty Woman" and the lesser-known "Down Don't Bother Me," written by King. Plus the covers of Ivory Joe Hunter's "I Almost Lost My Mind," the co-authored (David Porter and Albert King) "Personal Manager," "Laundromat Blues," and "As the Years Go Passing By," all are fond memories from this wonderful original recording, though I thought it was a bit odd to conclude with "The Very Thought Of You." But no matter, it wasn't unrealistic to expect that soon after "Born Under a Bad Sign" made its appearance on the charts that King Albert found himself playing to larger audiences like the Fillmore's East and West.

Of course, most Stax Remasters series albums would not be complete with previously unreleased bonus tracks. The alternate take of "Born Under a Bad Sign" isn't that different than the original album version, but I do like the audio mix better. The "Crosscut Saw" alternate also sounds a bit brighter, especially the horns. Yet another alternate, "The Hunter" is definitely grittier and more righteous; Duck Dunn's bass roars at you and Albert's snarls are more apparent, I clearly like this version better than the original. The final alternate "Personal Manager" is about one minute shorter than the previous original; it's a little heavier too. The final (non-alternate) bonus track is an instrumental titled "Untitled Instrumental" credited to Albert, it's short at just over two minutes, Dunn's bass pounces, the horns kick, Booker tickles the ivories on this all too short gem.

So if you have the original Born Under a Bad Sign in your collection should you purchase this one? That's a tough (and perhaps a financial) call, but considering the magic touch and enhanced sounds unearthed by the re-mastering whiz Joe Tarantino, the two sets of liner notes, and the five bonus tracks, I say get yourself this new Stax Remasters edition and enjoy.

By the way, if you happen to need further proof of Albert King's prowess, know that King Albert will be posthumously inducted into the Rock andRoll Hall of Fame on April 18, 2013. Finally! Here, here!

Bob Putignano is a senior contributing editor at BluesWax, a contributing writer at Blues Revue, and the heart and soul of Sounds of

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