" I'll Play The Blues For You "
BluesWax Rating: 8
Remaster of Classic Album Adds Bonus Tracks
Albert King's I'll Play The Blues For You is part of Stax' ongoing Remasters series. Originally released in 1972, this album has received Joe Tarantino's 24-bit remastering treatment, plus brand new liners from Bill Dahl, Tom Wheeler's original liners, and four previously unreleased bonus tracks. Here King is working with the remaining members of the Bar-Kays, who also doubled as members of Isaac Hayes' Movement band, and for extra depth and excitement The Memphis Horns were added.
Tarantino's remastering techniques add so much detail and bass to this (and other) Stax Remasters series, but man it's chilling to hear the full-bodied sound on the title track that still makes my hair stand on end. In like-mannered fashion "Breaking Up Somebody's Home" simmers and smokes; King's on fire, and the horns, man, the horns really raise the bar on this classic tune where the interplay (especially with bassist James Alexander) is stunning. The hokey crowd noise added to "I'll Be Doggone" makes this funky tune sound generational and dated. I guess Stax was trying to make this sound like a live performance, but it's weird, yet King soars on guitar near the end. "Don't Burn Down the Bridge ('Cause You Might Wanna Come Back Across)" storms mightily and is easily the most upbeat track included, once again the horns, Albert, and the band wail. The liners say that "Angel of Mercy" was not on the original LP but I checked my vinyl copy and it was there. No matter, it's another good one with Albert famously bending those strings.
The four bonus tracks start with a longer 8:44 minute alternate version of the title track, it's more bouncy than the original with different horn arrangements. Listen to Albert call out to "Come on Lucy" where his and the band's performance is stronger, more fearless and creative. Bassist Alexander really tears it up here, too, so it's a more than welcomed and interesting addition that alone makes it worth owning this expanded edition of this recording. "Don't Burn Down the Bridge" is also offered in a more up-tempo mode with different arrangements, and it's another keeper. Though not credited, it sure sounds like Booker T. Jones' B3 on "I Need a Love." I don't know why this burner sat un-issued for so long. Last but not least, "Albert's Stomp" is exactly what you'd expect, a driving (yet short) instrumental that closes this fine disc out in first-class and high-flying style. It sounds like Booker T's B3 again here, too.
This Stax Remaster series sound like high-end audiophile recordings, they sound that good, and remember that this album is forty years old! My only complaint is that I had hoped for better musician credits; song-by-song identifications would have been appreciated, especially on the four bonus tracks. Other than that, I'll Play the Blues For You still sounds contemporary; the pairing of Albert King with the Stax crew was and still stands as a brilliant concept that really worked. Thinking about this collaboration, it shows how adaptive, versatile, and open minded Albert King was, he fit into the Stax groove like a glove, that's why Albert is still one of the kings of the blues, and during his years at Stax he sure crafted plenty of classic and funky good blues!
Bob Putignano is a contributing writer at Blues Revue and a contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart and soul of Sounds of Blue.com