Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Freddie King - The Very Best of, Vol. 1 (Collectables, 2004)

Freddie King was one of the most influential guitarists of the modern era, especially on the young white rock and rollers that came of age in the 1960's. Some of his finest work is collected here, the first in a three disc comprehensive re-issue of his recordings from the Federal Label. Like so many bluesmen, King had moved to Chicago in search of economic opportunity, in his case, working in a steel mill in addition to breaking into the night club scene. His fortunes began to rise when he signed to Federal, where he had considerable chart success with the soon to be famous instrumental bluesy shuffle single "Hide Away."

Federal, like a lot of blues labels who had a hit, kept going back to the well releasing a number of instrumentals like the blistering "Side Tracked" and "San-Ho-Zay." Because of the popularity of his instrumentals, King has over the years picked up the reputation of being a weak vocalist, which is not entirely earned. His singing on "Have You Ever Loved a Woman" and "Love Her With a Feeling" is powerful and competent and would influence Eric Clapton's Derek and the Dominoes project. But the focus was definitely on the guitar, even to the extreme of cutting a couple of Christmas themed jingles. King's early output is very important in the development of modern blues and rock and roll, and this is an excellent way to collect it.

Send comments to: Tim