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Stax years highlight Albert King collection

Albert King: The Ultimate Collection
Albert King: The Ultimate Collection
By Albert King

Rhino Records: 1993

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This review first appeared in the Spring 1994 edition of Blues Revue Quarterly magazine (now Blues Revue).

Another of Rhino's beautiful two-CD boxed sets commemorating the career of one of the giants of blues or jazz, "Albert King: The Ultimate Collection" contains a broad selection from his illustrious career, including his phenomenal Stax sides from the mid- and late 1960s.

As well as Bill Greensmith's liner notes are written, as beautiful as the accompanying booklet is, as telling as the numerous photographs of King from throughout his career are, nothing captures the essence of the musician quite so much as hearing the original Stax recordings of "Crosscut Saw," "Laundromat Blues," "FunkShun" and "Born Under a Bad Sign."

In addition to the strong Stax presence, this set contains some of his jump blues recordings from the late '50s and a track laid down as recently as 1984 (a cover of Robert Cray's "Phone Booth"). There are also some funk recordings made in the mid-'70s, and some R&B sides with Allen Toussaint from the late '70s.

There isn't really a bad cut here; if not the definitive Albert King collection, it's the closest you're going to find on two discs.