Wednesday, 23 December 2009

“My Feeling For The Blues” by FREDDIE KING. A Review of his US-Only 1970 Album on Cotillion Records Reissued By Repertoire on CD in 1991.

"…One Day We Have Ham And Bacon…And The Next Day…Ain’t Nothin’ Shakin’…"

The mid to late Sixties was a strange and difficult time for many Blues men – most were without contracts, forgotten and under-appreciated - then the Blues boom happened (particularly in the UK) and many had their careers kick-started again. Freddie King was no exception.

His last album had been for Federal in 1964, but with a new lease of life on the mighty Atlantic label, he produced two much revered LPs in rapid succession. The first was “Freddie King Is A Blues Master” released in 1969 on SD 9004 and then this peach - “My Feeling For The Blues” on Cotillion SD 9016 released in early 1970.

This 1991 Repertoire CD (REP 4170-WZ) is a straightforward transfer of that second 11-track album (36:03 minutes).

Ace saxophonist KING CURTIS produced the record - with all arrangements by Atlantic’s newest soul protégé DONNY HATHAWAY (except “Woke Up This Morning” which was Arranged by King Curtis).

The musicians for the sessions were:
Lead Guitar & Vocals – FREDDIE KING
Rhythm Guitar – CORNELL DUPREE
Tenor Saxophones – GEORGE COLEMAN and FRANK WESS
Tenor & Baritone Saxophones – TREVOR LAWRENCE and WILLE BRIDGES
“What’d I Say” features Bass Marimba and Sax Solo by KING CURTIS
“You Don’t Have To Go” and “The Things I Used To Do” feature Harmonica by HUGH McCRACKEN

The 3-way foldout inlay has a brief but informative history of King’s career by BERND MATHEJA that is sided on Page 3 by a selected Discography. Although licensed from East West, it doesn’t advise who remastered what – but the sound quality is great nonetheless – clean, muscular and so enjoyable. Repertoire as a label has always had a good reputation when it comes to transfers.

Side 1 opens with the down and dirty “Yonder Wall” which not surprisingly for the date it was recorded name-checks men coming home from the Vietnam War. It’s followed by a cracking Freddie King instrumental called “The Stumble” – the kind of cool boppin’ blues tune that turns up on those hip compilations you read about. “I Wonder Why” and “Stormy Monday” (BB King and Jimmy Witherspoon covers) get the brassy treatment like “Yonder Wall” to great effect, while Side 1 ends with a wonderful take on Willie Mabon’s “I Don’t Know” with the bass really forward and funky in the mix.

Side 2 opens with a version of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” that builds like the Atlantic original did, which is followed by one of my favourites, a fabulous soulful take on Jimmy Witherspoon’s standard “Ain’t Nobody’s Business What We Do” (lyrics above). It’s followed by a superb harmonica driven shuffle, a cover of Jimmy Reed’s “You Don’t Have To Go” which features Freddie giving it some funky blues – such a cool number. The pace is then expertly changed to another “…my baby is gone…” song, a cover of B.B. King’s “Woke Up This Morning” with punchy brass fills (you can hear Hathaway’s soulfulness in a lot of the arrangements).

This album has been reissued subsequently in 2008 by another company but apparently the sound isn’t the greatest; the only other stop is the July 2009 Bear Family Box Set called “Taking Care Of Business” that covers everything from 1956 through to 1973 across 7 CDs and a Hardback Book - a Christmas treat I feel certain I’m going to allow myself.

Born in 1934, Freddie King suffered a heart attack at a concert in December 1976 and passed away two days later. Name-checked by hosts of luminaries like Eric Clapton and Peter Green, on hearing this totally forgotten peach of an album, it’s easy to see why this bluesman is remembered with such affection.

A nice CD and worth seeking out - next stop the bank-manager and Bear Family’s stupendous box set…

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