I’ll Play the Blues for You
When Albert King returned to Memphis in 1972 to record with The Bar-Kays, the Isaac Hayes Movement, and the Memphis Horns, it was hoped it would be a success along the lines of his 1967 hit Born Under a Bad Sign. That album, with hits such as the title cut and “Crosscut Saw,” was a game-changer for King, broadening his appeal to the R+B markets while still keeping him atop the blues charts as well. I’ll Play the Blues for You continues in the same vein as Bad Sign, with equally grand results.
When King strapped on Lucy, his backwards strung, upside down Gibson Flying V, he created a sound never equaled, although many, from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughn, tried. His blues were never rushed — no Buddy Guy pyrotechnics here, just stinging solo lines atop a river of funk. His “I’ll Be Doggone” takes Motown to a juke joint with stops at the temple of James Brown, while “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home” is a lean, mean throw down, and Albert’s vocals on it would give anyone pause.
This 2012 reissue adds four cuts to the original album, including the great “Albert’s Stomp” and “I Need a Love,” making this a welcome update to an already legendary blues record. Long known as one of most influential and identifiable guitarists, I’ll Play the Blues for You was one of his best, and if anyone could play the blues, it was Albert King. When King calls out “C’mon Lucy, play!” and squeezes those strings within an inch of their life, its Blues 101, and one of the genre’s most essential albums.