Thursday, 21 February 2019
Albert King - I Wanna Get Funky (1974)
Released in 1974
Despite the title, this is far more of a Stax soul meets the blues album than a funk one, despite several undoubted funky moments. It seems very much to me like a Stax album, which of course it what it is. Lots of horns all over it. It continues King's successful relationship with Stax Records and includes some really solid soul material and, of course, King's trademark blues guitar too.
1. I Wanna Get Funky
2. Playing On Me
3. Walking The Back Streets And Crying
4. 'Til My Back Ain't Got No Bone
5. Flat Tire
6. I Can't Hear Nothing But the Blues
7. Travelin' Man
8. Crosscut Saw
9. That's What The Blues Is All About
"I Wanna Get Funky" is, unsurprisingly, a medium pace funk-influenced cooker of a track. "Playing On Me" is a muscular number, with some excellent soulful vocals from King and an addictive horn and organ staccato backing.
"Walking The Back Streets And Crying" is a classic piece of slow burning blues balladry. King contributes some killer guitar half way through. "'Til My Back Ain't Got No Bone" starts with a Barry White-style spoken vocal, over a seductive bass and electric guitar rhythm. The beat increases a bit as the narrative progresses, and a funky riff is added. After about four minutes, he ups the vocal and starts singing and the funky bass matches him, as do the horns. Despite that the song keeps to its almost walking pace groove. This track has a subtle funk about it and is quite infectious.
"Flat Tire" has a typical Stax horn-driven intro and some funky wah-wah backing behind another semi-spoken vocal. "I Can't Hear Nothing But the Blues" is a delicious slice of Stax blues. It has one of those great bits where the tempo slows down to just a bass line, a bit of organ and a quiet drum beat and King starts to semi-sing "hey Mr. Bartender....". "Travelin' Man" is a lively, organ-driven piece of soulful, bluesy funk. Next up is a re-make of King's 1965 classic, "Crosscut Saw", extended here to a funky seven minutes. The rhythm is insistent and exhilarating and never lets up. It is full of searing blues guitar and those punchy horns. When push comes to shove, I think I prefer the sheer blues power of the original, but this one is great also, with some wonderful guitar and drum interplay in the track's final few minutes. "That's What The Blues Is All About" is an invigorating slice of lively funky soul to finish the album with. It has a killer keyboard riff underpinning the verses.
All Albert King's Stax albums are recommended, to be honest. You can't go wrong with any of them.
- February 21, 2019