Freddy King ‘Freddy King Sings’ / ‘Let’s Hide Away’ / ‘Let’s Dance Away’ (Soul Jam) 5/5

Freddy-KingBlues has three musician Kings of the modern era: Albert, B.B. and Freddy. The latter is arguably the most emotive and rawest sounding of the three and certainly the influence of Freddy King on the emerging British blues guitar of the 1960s of the calibre of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Peter Green and Mick Taylor was enormous. This superbly put together offering pairs his two classic albums and throws in some tasty 45s to make up seventy-six minutes of sheer and unadulterated modern blues delight. Remastered and sounding better than ever, Soul Jam have left no stone unturned by complementing the music with their usual high standard of highly informative booklet that contains photos galore, original LP covers and creative flyers of the era. Collectively, these conjure up the blues scene in the 1960s to perfection.

Originally released on Federal, the subsidiary of the King label (no relation to the guitarist), the albums differ only in that the first concentrates on Freddy’s vocal as well as guitar prowess whereas the second is all-instrumental and original compositions at that. For the first album, King delivered some of his most soulful ever vocals and these included the impassioned take on ‘Have you ever loved a woman?’, the R&B flavoured ‘See See baby’ and the seductive tones of Lonesome whistle blues’. It was certainly the case that Freddy King was at his commercial zenith in 1961 and he scored no less than six singles in the Billboard R&B charts of which four were top ten hits. For the second album, however, ‘Hide away’ is definitive Freddy King and of all the instrumentals he ever recorded, the one that is always associated with him and rightly so since it is a magnificent track. It is not the sole gem on the second album and both ‘San-ho-zay’ and ‘Sen-sa-shun’ are well worth the admission fee as is the funkier groove to ‘Butterscotch’.

Later in the decade, Freddy King signed for Cotillion records and recorded two of his funkiest albums in ‘Freddy King is a blues master’ (1969) and ‘My feeling for the blues’ (1970), both recorded under the production chores of saxophonist King Curtis. They are richly deserving of a re-issue as a pair and individual tracks have been featured on a younger generation of DJs playlists and they have even been included on soul and funk compilations of the period. Freddy King’s sudden death at the age of forty-two was a tragic loss to the world of blues music, yet his influence was so great that those that followed were steeped in his musical legacy and that included Stevie Ray Vaughan. Simply put, if you want to know what the truly essential Freddy King sides are, then there is only place to start off your collection.

Tim Stenhouse