Despite the fact that his work has been overshadowed by that of his regal namesake B.B. King, Albert King Nelson was a truly exceptional performer and one of the finest in the entire blues/soul canon. King's first solo recording, 'Bad Luck Blues', was released in 1953, but it was not until the end of the decade that he embarked on a full-time career. His early work fused his already distinctive fretwork to big band-influenced arrangements and included his first successful single, 'Don't Throw Your Love On Me Too Strong'. However, his style was not fully defined until 1966 when, signed to the Stax Records label, he began working with Booker T. And The MGs. This tightly knit quartet supplied the perfect rhythmic punch, a facet enhanced by a judicious use of horns. 'Cold Feet', which included wry references to several Stax stablemates, and 'I Love Lucy', a homage to King's distinctive Gibson 'Flying V' guitar, stand among his finest recordings.
However, this period is best remembered for 'Born Under A Bad Sign' (1967) and 'The Hunter' (1968), two performances that became an essential part of many repertoires including those of Free and Cream. King became a central part of the late 60s 'blues boom', touring the college and concert circuit. His classic album, Live Wire/Blues Power, recorded at San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium in 1968, introduced his music to the white rock audience. More excellent albums followed in its wake, including King Does The King's Thing, a tribute collection of Elvis Presley material, and Years Gone By. His work during the 70s was largely unaffected by prevailing trends. 'That's What The Blues Is All About' borrowed just enough from contemporary styles to provide King with a Top 20 R&B single, but the bankruptcy of two outlets dealt a blow to King's career. A five-year recording famine ended in 1983, and an astute programme of new material and careful reissues kept the master's catalogue alive. King remained a commanding live performer and an influential figure. A new generation of musicians, including Robert Cray and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan continued to acknowledge his timeless appeal, a factor reinforced in 1990 when King guested on guitarist Gary Moore's 'back-to-the-roots' collection, Still Got The Blues. King died late in 1992.
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