Personnel includes: Freddie King (guitar); Lonnie Mack, Fred Jordan (guitar); Clifford Scott, Gene Redd (saxophone); Sonny Thompson (piano); Philip Paul (drums).
Liner Note Author: Bill Dahl.
This is something of a sequel to the 1993 Ace compilation of early King sides titled Blues Guitar Hero: The Influential Early Sessions, though it took Ace nearly a decade to unleash the companion volume. All of the 24 tracks were recorded between 1961 and 1966, though some of the songs weren't released until after 1966, in a few cases not for decades; indeed, four alternate takes make their first appearance here. All of King's chart records occurred in 1961, and all were included on the prior Blues Guitar Hero: The Influential Early Sessions, so this couldn't qualify as the first-choice early King; there's no "Hide Away" or "San-Ho-Zay" here. On a musical level, though, this isn't much different in nature or quality than what you'll find on the earlier anthology. Split between vocals and instrumentals, it's top-notch R&B-blues-rock & roll crossover with stinging guitar and soulful vocals, even if the similarity of some of the songs might turn off non-aficionados. Among the cooler cuts are 1964's "Now I've Got a Woman," with its riveting minor-keyed groove; the wailing slowie "Someday After Awhile (You'll Be Sorry)," covered by the Peter Green lineup of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers; and the faint exotica of "Bossa Nova Blues." Lonnie Mack adds some nice texture on rhythm guitar on a few of the sides of the latest vintage. ~ Richie Unterberger