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CD REVIEW -- Guy King
GLT blues radio

GUY KING

Truth

Delmark Records

Guy King Truth CD art

by Dan Bindert

Guy King doesn't rock the blues on his new Delmark CD, "Truth." Instead he plays it sophisticated and soulful, with a sense of taste and genuine feeling that's sometimes lacking in contemporary blues. It's easily the Israeli-born guitarist's most fully realized recording yet, with top flight production from Dick Shurman (Johnny Winter, Albert Collins) that captures King as he displays his command of the form in a variety of settings, ranging from '50s R&B and '60s soul-influenced blues to '70s funk and classic jazz standard balladry. Fans who've been following King on stage over the years will welcome this set, which captures the full range of his live presentation in a way that his previous discs have not.

 

 King's work is heavily informed by Ray Charles, B.B. King and Albert King; though he at times wears those influences on his sleeve, he's no mimic. His vocals strike an enjoyable balance between honoring his heroes and confidently making the music his own. His guitar hits the mark on every song.

 

Highlights includes four originals, three co-written by the prolific music biography author David Ritz (who wrote books on Etta James, Buddy Guy, B.B. King to name a few). Of these, the title cut, "Truth," is perhaps the finest, by way of a philosophical lyric coupled with a mysterious theme. And when it comes to the songs King didn't write, he steers clear of obvious warhorses but borrows from the best - including Ray Charles, Percy Mayfield, B.B. King and Albert King.

 

Standout tracks include King's update of Johnny "Guitar" Watson's late '70s blues-funk gem, "It's About the Dollar Bill," as King and company put all the elements together - horns and background singers over a funk groove, with a clever lyric and an exciting rapid-fire guitar solo that rides the groove beautifully. On blues ballads, like the Dr. John/Doc Pomus classic "There Must Be a Better World Somewhere" (made famous by B.B. King) and Harold Arlen's "I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues" (done memorably by Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and others) King delivers them with maturity and a real understanding of the songs.

 

The highlights also include King's revitalization of a pre-Atlantic era, early '50s Ray Charles song "Hey Now," the Stax-era Albert King witticism "If the Washing Don't Get You the Rinsing Will" and blues poet Percy Mayfield's "Cookin' in Style." But there are highlights all throughout this disc - a fine effort all the way!

 

Dan Bindert is the station manager at WDCB 90.9 FM and sometimes spins blues and jazz at the public radio station, too.

 


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