Concord Music Group will release Albert King's I'll Play the Blues for You as part of its Stax Remasters series. Enhanced by 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, four previously unreleased bonus tracks, and newly written liner notes by music journalist and roots music historian Bill Dahl, the reissue not only spotlights one of the most entertaining and influential blues recordings of the 1970s, but also underscores the album's enduring nature four decades after its original release.
In addition to King's brilliant guitar and vocal work, the album also features a rhythm section made up of members of the Bar-Kays and the Movement - the former a new lineup following the tragic Otis Redding plane crash that wiped out most of the original band, and the latter group Isaac Hayes's funk-driven outfit, with guitarist Michael Toles, bassist and Bar-Kays co-founder James Alexander, and drummer Willie Hall members of both bands. Rounding out the backup unit is the Memphis Horns, featuring longtime Stax mainstays Wayne Jackson on trumpet and Andrew Love on tenor saxophone.
Recorded in Memphis in 1972 and released in the fall of that same year, I'll Play the Blues for You "was a typically brilliant mixture of pile-driving blues and hot Memphis soul grooves that dented Billboard's pop album survey at #140," says Dahl in his liner notes. "Producers Allen Jones and Henry Bush kept King contemporary while simultaneously emphasizing his inherent strengths. The result was one of Albert's best long-players."
"This album was originally recorded and released in 1972, at the very end of an era when a variety of musical genres - blues, rock, pop, soul and funk, to name a few - could still coexist on a single radio station playlist or on a single tour bill," says Chris Clough, Concord's Manager of Catalog Development and producer of this reissue. "Albert King was versatile enough, and had a broad enough appeal in the early '70s, to pull in audiences that were dialed into every one of these styles. He successfully walked a tightrope that connected so many different kinds of music and so many different audiences. This versatility is partly why he's so influential four decades after this recording was originally issued."
In addition to the LP's eight tracks, I'll Play the Blues for You includes four previously unreleased titles - two of which are alternate takes of songs in the main sequence. "A stripped-down ‘Don't Burn Down the Bridge' minus the horns crackles with excitement," says Dahl, "while a freshly discovered alternate of ‘I'll Play the Blues for You' sports a contrasting horn arrangement and has no spoken interlude yet stands quite tall on its own, even with King playing right over an elegant sax solo (he really tears it up on the extended vamp out, spinning chorus after chorus of hair-raising licks").
The other two of the four bonus tracks are "splendid additions to King's Stax canon," says Dahl. "It's hard to understand why ‘I Need a Love' laid unissued; the upbeat scorcher comes complete with full-blast horns, Albert's smoky vocal bearing an ominous edge. ‘Albert's Stomp' is a funk-soaked instrumental that finds King working Lucy [his trademark flying V guitar] over fatback organ and Toles's wah-wah."
Dahl sums up this 1972 tour de force accurately and succinctly: "When Albert King gave us I'll Play the Blues for You, he fulfilled his promise and then some."