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Ace (CDCHD1292 )

AL KING My Name Is Misery, Ain't Givin' Up Nothin', Better To Be By Yourself, It's Getting Late, The Thrill Is Gone, Bad Understanding, The World Needs Love, Lovin' You, I Still Care For You, Get Lost, Without A Warning, Maybe My Last Song. ARTHUR K ADAMS: She Drives Me Out Of My Mind, Gimme Me Some Of Your Loving, I Need You, I'm Lonely For You, Let Your Hair Down, You Make Me Cry, I Need You (alternate take). ARTHUR K ADAMS & EDNA WRIGHT: Let's Get Together. ARTHUR & MARY: Is That You?

This new release from Ace brings together two old buddies whose careers ran side by side in the late sixties.

Al King was a vocalist from Monroe, Louisiana who settled on a Percy Mayfield kind of delivery that was soulful, sardonic and steeped in the blues. For most of his career he laid down what can only be described as funky ballads which were over-laid with snappy guitar licks, inventive piano runs and beautifully placed horn sections. His 45s for Modern and King were reasonably successful but could have done better. Some of his songs were dynamite and in the old days, whenever an Al King 45 was listed in an auction, I always went for it because he consistently came up with well crafted pieces that hit the spot. For example, listen to the easy groove of Lovin' You with its walking bass beat and Stax-inspired horn arrangements and note-perfect solo by Arthur K Adams or try My Name Is Misery, where the relentless thumping rhythm section delivers a Born Under A Bad Sign beat while Al lets loose with some imaginative lyrics. There's some moody guitar picking running through the snappily soulful It's Getting Late with its nice sliding arrangement and knocked out New Orleans style piano while the threatening Bad Understanding is a pretty tough number with a slick line in horn arrangements that reminds me of Wilson Pickett recordings. Al King should have been a bigger star than he was. Listen this CD and you'll see why.

Arthur K Adams was more successful. He left Dallas in 1964 as guitarist in Gene Allison's band, made a few singles, worked as a session man beefing up the rhythm section on albums like BB King's The Jungle, made a pile of albums for Modern, Blue Thumb and Fantasy and spent many years with The Crusaders. His sixties records were outstanding blues gems filled with fabulous vocals, sumptuous guitar lines and inventive lyricism. Some of these songs really take off - listen to the startling chord progressions and lyrical twists on the Impressions influenced I'm Lonely For You, the metallic chunkiness of the guitar on the delicious deep soul moves of You Make Me Cry and the thrilling deep blues guitar runs that slither and squeal all over his masterwork She Drives Me Out of My Mind.  Ace Records discovered that the original tape runs for a minute longer than the 45 rpm single release so if you, like me, have treasured the UK issue on Blue Horizon for the last forty years, you'll be pleased to hear the complete version here.

The CD contains eight previously unreleased masters and several new mixes in stereo plus a juicy booklet filled with facts from Tony Rounce and rare label shots. Ace has done it again!


Review Date: January 2011

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