ALBERT KING’S SEMINAL STAX RECORDS DEBUT, BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN, TO BE REISSUED ON 180-GRAM VINYL, SACD AND HI-RES DIGITAL

Craft Recordings celebrates Albert King’s centennial year with special vinyl and hi-res digital reissues of his electrifying Stax Records debut, Born Under a Bad Sign. Set for release on April 21 and available to pre-order now, this highly influential blues album features an all-star line-up of musicians (including Booker T & The M.G.’s and members of The Memphis Horns) and finds King performing the iconic, original recording of “Born Under a Bad Sign,” plus classics like “Laundromat Blues,” “Oh Pretty Woman,” and “Crosscut Saw.”

 

Offering the highest-quality listening experience, this edition of Born Under a Bad Sign was pressed on 180-gram vinyl with (AAA) lacquers cut from the original stereo tapes by Jeff Powell at Take Out Vinyl. The album will also be available in hi-res digital (192/24 and 96/24) and SACD (mastered from the original stereo tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio), which is exclusive to our store.

 

Often referred to as one of the “Kings of the Blues,” alongside Freddie King and B.B. King (no relation), Albert King (1923–1992) was one of the most influential blues artists in history, revered for his deft artistry on the electric guitar (most famously on a Gibson Flying V) and his deep, husky vocals. Combining an urgent Delta blues style with contemporary soul rhythms, King redefined the genre for the modern era.

 

Born on a cotton plantation in Mississippi, King was a self-taught musician, who fashioned his first guitar out of a cigar box. When he purchased the real thing, the left-handed artist taught himself how to play the instrument upside-down. Supporting his career through a variety of jobs, King eventually moved north, first to Gary, IN, where he recorded his debut singles and played alongside blues pioneer, Jimmy Reed. In the mid-’50s, he relocated to the St. Louis area, where he built a following in the club scene and released his first Top 20 R&B hit, “Don’t Throw Your Love on Me So Strong” (1961).

 

King eventually returned to the South, settling in the musical hub of Memphis, where he promptly signed with the legendary soul label, Stax Records. There, King expanded upon his sound, collaborating with a powerhouse team of in-house musicians, producers, and songwriters, including Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, and William Bell. It was a winning combination, which found King scoring a multitude of hits on the R&B charts, beginning with 1966’s “Laundromat Blues,” followed by “Crosscut Saw” and “Born Under a Bad Sign” in 1967. It was the latter song, however, that became a blues standard—nearly instantly. Penned by Bell and Jones,  “Born Under a Bad Sign” had major crossover appeal with rock audiences. Soon, acts like Cream and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band were recording their own renditions.

 

The single also served as the title track to King’s debut LP with Stax. Released in August 1967, Born Under a Bad Sign compiled the above-mentioned singles, plus originals like “The Hunter,” (penned by Booker T. & The M.G.’s, and Carl Wells), “Personal Manager,” (by King and David Porter), and King’s own “Down Don’t Bother Me.” King also recorded several standards, including Leiber & Stoller’s “Kansas City” and Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought of You.”

 

AllMusic argues that when King paired up with Booker T. & The M.G.’s, who served as Stax’s house band, “Everything just clicked. The MG’s gave King supple Southern support, providing an excellent contrast to his tightly wound lead guitar, allowing him to unleash a torrent of blistering guitar runs that were profoundly influential, not just in blues, but in rock & roll.” With the addition of the celebrated Memphis Horns (who performed on sessions for Elvis Presley, Otis Redding, and Al Green, to name a few), these recordings were funky, swinging, and soulful.

 

Born Under a Bad Sign would become King’s defining tour de force, securing his place as one of the great blues musicians of the modern era. The album’s undeniable influence, meanwhile, reverberated on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to Cream’s Eric Clapton, countless artists and bands emulated King’s sound, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix. King also became a mainstream star himself, frequently playing venues like the Fillmore West and sharing the stage with rock music’s biggest acts.

 

In over 55 years since its release, the legacy of Born Under a Bad Sign has only continued to grow. The album was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame, and added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry, which recognizes recordings that are deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Long recognized as one of the best blues albums ever recorded, Born Under a Bad Sign was ranked among Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, while its title track was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll” roundup.

 

Following Born Under a Bad Sign, King continued to release a slew of top-selling albums, including 1971’s Lovejoy, 1972’s I’ll Play the Blues for You, and 1968’s Live Wire/Blues Power (captured at the Fillmore Auditorium). In 1972, King joined the likes of Isaac Hayes, Johnnie Taylor, and the Staples Singers on stage at the historic Wattstax Festival, while years later, many of his memorable live performances would be released by Stax, including the chart-topping In Session with Stevie Ray Vaughn.

 

The GRAMMY-nominated artist continued to stay active in his later years, recording and performing until his death in 1992. Among his many honors, King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1983 and was awarded the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award in 1991. Posthumously, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, both in 2013.

 

  

Born Under a Bad Sign tracklist (vinyl)

Side A

  1. Born Under A Bad Sign
  2. Crosscut Saw
  3. Kansas City
  4. Oh, Pretty Woman
  5. Down Don’t Bother Me
  6. The Hunter

 

Side B

  1. I Almost Lost My Mind
  2. Personal Manager
  3. Laundromat Blues
  4. As The Years Go Passing by
  5. The Very Thought Of You

 

Born Under a Bad Sign tracklist (hi-res digital) 

  1. Born Under A Bad Sign
  2. Crosscut Saw
  3. Kansas City
  4. Oh, Pretty Woman
  5. Down Don’t Bother Me
  6. The Hunter
  7. I Almost Lost My Mind
  8. Personal Manager
  9. Laundromat Blues
  10. As The Years Go Passing by
  11. The Very Thought Of You

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