Friday, May 05, 2006

Albert and the Wolf

Albert King - Killing Floor

On Tuesday I did a post about Chess Records' attempts to record soul and funk material on Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, with a focus on the latter. Although Wolf was pretty unsuccessful with his attempts (save for the minor hit "Evil"), I actually think he was more suitable for the experiment than Muddy was, because Wolf's vocals had more of a "rock and roll" feel and his '60s blues sides had a more contemporary sound to them than Muddy's. Wolf's 1963 self-penned classic "Killing Floor" is the best example, featuring fantastic guitar work by Hubert Sumlin that almost has a proto-funk feel.

Albert King's cover of "Killing Floor" shows how Chess should have attempted to give Wolf a soul sound. King, ably supported by Booker T. & The M.G.'s (Steve Cropper handles the Hubert Sumlin part), lays down a muscular reading of the song, complete with his usual pile-driving guitar work. At some point I need to do a post about Albert King's fantastic Stax sides, at which time I'll write more about the late guitar master, but for now enjoy this piece of funky blues.

It should also be noted that "Killing Floor" would pop up again at Stax, when the Mar-Keys used the guitar lick as the basis for the horn charts on Otis Redding and Carla Thomas' version of "Tramp." Ol' Hubert really came up with something good that day in 1963!

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