Born Under A Bad Sign

I have just finished listening to the Stax remaster of Albert King‘s classic Born Under A Bad sign. This is a perfect album; quite a feat for what began as a collection of singles.

It is hard to believe that this was recorded between 1966 and 1967. Albert’s tone is biting and his timing is flawless. His singing is soulful too. Oh, and do I even need to say that Booker T, Steve cropper, Al Jackson Jr. and Donald “Duck” Dunn provide sublime backing throughout? The songs and their arrangements are timeless. While listening, I was reminded of how I recently watched a few movies from the late 1980’s and early ’90s and thought to myself as I listened to the contemporary soundtracks, “What were they thinking?” However, this album has aged well. The arrangement of “I Almost Lost My Mind” with its flute accompaniment was particularly inspired, especially considering that a slow tune like that from this period would typically have a schmaltzy string arrangement.

Anyone who is already a fan is familiar with this album. If you are not, then this is the place to start. There is no filler here. In addition to the strong title track it is packed with vital songs like Crosscut Saw (from which song Clapton lifted the solo on Cream’s Strange Brew), Oh Pretty Woman, The Hunter (quoted by Led Zeppelin on their first album), and Personal Manager.  As The Years Go Passing By (where Clapton got the riff for Layla from) is a personal favorite of mine. This is one of the rare minor key blues in Albert’s discography and it leaves you wanting more as it fades out at less than three and a half minutes. They just don’t make them like this anymore.

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