The Second Disc

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Archive for May 31st, 2012

Review: Albert King, “I’ll Play The Blues For You”

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It wasn’t that Albert King couldn’t play music other than the blues…but even when crooning in his most velvety-rich style, there was just something inherently lived-in, worldly, and commanding about that voice…in other words, something bluesy.  And though that underrated voice would be enough for a lesser artist, King’s greatest gift was as a guitarist.  Perhaps the best display of both of those titanic talents was the 1972 Stax album with the apt title of I’ll Play the Blues for You, just reissued and expanded by Concord Music Group (STX-33716, 2012).

A towering six-foot-four, King hailed from Mississippi but spent his youth in various spots before settling in Memphis in 1966 where he was signed by Stax.  A transitional period for Stax was just around the corner.  Otis Redding and members of Stax mainstays The Bar-Kays tragically perished in a plane crash in December 1967, and then the company’s distribution deal with Atlantic Records ended a year later.  Both events contributed to the formation of a new Stax with a leaner, meaner, even funkier sound.  King’s 1967 Born Under a Bad Sign, recorded for Stax with “house band” Booker T. and the MGs as well as the Memphis Horns, became one of the most influential blues albums of all time.  Further releases followed, including 1968’s Live Wire/Blues Power, recorded far from Memphis at San Francisco’s Fillmore, and a 1970 tribute to another King, Elvis Presley.  But I’ll Play the Blues for You, produced and arranged for King by Allen Jones and Henry Bush, was a landmark.  It provided King with a new signature song via the title track, as well as showcasing all sides of his musical prowess.

Hit the jump to delve into Concord’s remastered edition of this seminal album! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 31, 2012 at 13:36

Posted in Albert King, News, Reissues, Reviews

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Master of “Time and Space”: Ace Arranger Jimmy Wisner Reissues Early Jazz Recordings

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The list of artists with whom Jimmy “Wiz” Wisner has worked is rather staggering: Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, Neil Sedaka, Iggy Pop, Carly Simon, Al Kooper, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Searchers…the list goes on.  But although everybody knows “Palisades Park” (on which Wisner played organ for Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon) or “Sunday Will Never Be the Same” (which Wisner arranged for Spanky and Our Gang), few know the music he’s created as a solo artist.  ABKCO is seeking to redress this with the recent release of Time and Space.  This 10-track compilation draws on the two albums Wisner recorded for Philadelphia’s Cameo-Parkway Records for C-P’s Wyncote imprint, 1964’s The Girl from Ipanema and 1965’s Cast Your Fate to the Wind.  The former, originally credited to “Jimmy Davis” and “Norma Lee,” features Wisner on piano and Norma Mendoza on vocals, while the latter finds Wisner flying solo under his own name.  Unfortunately for Ms. Mendoza, Time and Space is an all-instrumental affair, showcasing Jimmy Wisner’s considerable gifts as a jazz composer and pianist.

The recipient of 36 Gold and 22 Platinum awards, Wisner also co-wrote The Searchers’ hit “Don’t Throw Your Love Away” and has been involved with over 100 hit records as producer, arranger or composer.  But he’s long held a soft spot for these very personal albums recorded for Wyncote, and recently approached ABKCO (the successor to Cameo-Parkway) about their reissue.  The result is Time and Space, which takes five tracks from each of the two albums.  Although credits on the actual album are sparse, it appears that Wisner has remixed and/or overdubbed many of these tracks; ABKCO’s press release indicates that Wisner has “improved the original recordings with a very contemporary approach including enhancements he’d had in mind for more than five decades.”

We’ve got more on “Wiz” Wisner after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 31, 2012 at 10:06