There is much to like in this album, starting with King’s cooking guitar, which pops up in almost every groove. “My Babe,” an old Willie Dixon tune, benefits from an inventive horn arrangement, appropriate background singing, and the feeling King meant business when he recorded it. “I’m Ready” is treated in like manner, but comes up dull, probably because it adds nothing to existing versions.
But most of the album is mundanely organized. Part of the problem is King’s longstanding policy of recording with studio musicians — a shame, since he’s just hired a working band he found in the South, and they work well with him in concert.
It would be presumptuous to suggest King should stick to blues or shouldn’t be playing predisco funk (which dominates this set). But he is a blues guitarist best and first, and anything else is simply mispackaging. There’s no reason to hide a guitar that comes out playing the blues anyway.
Like B.B. and Freddie King, Albert’s style defines a certain aspect of a larger one — in Albert’s case, a “psychedelic” sound that was bending minds long before anyone heard of acid rock. But in the last few years, the three kings of the blues all have sounded like pretenders to the throne.
The next time King makes an album he should keep this in mind and put himself in the right package.