Albert King - Born Under A Bad Sign

Albert King - Born Under A Bad Sign
Authored By Johnny Blogger

Born Under a Bad Sign was the first album that Albert King made for Stax Records and his second album overall. His back band for it was the Stax house band Booker T. and the MGs, featuring the Memphis Horns.

Four of the album's songs became modern blues classics: Born Under a Bad Sign, Oh Pretty Woman, The Hunter, and Crosscut Saw covered by everyone who ever picked up a blues guitar. Interestingly, as soon as this album came out in August 1967, rock bands began to lift tracks from it. For example, Free did a version of the Hunter early the following year on their debut album - and a storming version it is, too. Led Zeppelin had it in their set and on the first album the following year.

I think this is because, more than any other electric blues album, is forms a bridge between pure blues and rock. It is the root source of what we soon came to know as guitar-driven blues rock. That cutting, aggressive sound translated so well into the ever louder amplification that was quickly becoming available. When everyone started to turn it up, Albert's riff were ready and waiting and sounded brilliant at high volume.

Albert King was someone that everyone cites as a major influence, from Clapton to Jimi to SRV, Gary Moore and many more. The title track of this album, with its universal message that 'if it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all' is as profound a statement of the human condition as anyone ever made and, along with it's half-step, spacious riff, goes some way to explain its perennial popularity.

Born Under A Bad Sign has been acknowledged as one of the most important blues records in history, but I'd go further than that and say it is one of the most important in all music. It remains the tap root from which so much music grew that it is inseparable from everything that came after it. It didn't sell in the many millions, but every musician that got a copy seems to have taken it to heart.

In many ways, Albert King wrote the future history of rock music with this record. It's that important.


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