Of the three Kings of blues guitar, Freddie King, even more than B.B. and Albert, was the triggerman for Britain’s guitar-hero explosion in the Sixties, sparking Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor, among others, with his muscular-treble tone, cutting leads and snappy writing. The proof: Taking Care of Business 1956-1973 (Bear Family), seven CDs packed with King’s urban-grit classics for the Federal and King labels. That includes the 1961 instrumental smash “Hideaway” — the record that “started me on my path,” Clapton said in 1985 — and King’s original R&B hit versions of British guitar-slinger staples such as “The Stumble,” “I’m Tore Down” and “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” (the last covered by Clapton with Derek and the Dominos). The box also has King’s later meaty LPs produced by Leon Russell (with King’s signature take on the hard-blues standard “Going Down”) and King Curtis. Freddie died too early, in 1976 at age 42, but not before leaving the robust down-home guitar heroism that fills this box.
[From Issue 1098 — February 18, 2010]