Monday, July 31, 2017

This Month in Music (1967): Albert King released the Born Under a Bad Sign album

Born Under a Bad Sign

Albert King

Released: July 1967

Recorded: March 3, 1966 to June 9, 1967

Peak: --

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Genre: blues


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to charts.

  1. Born Under a Bad Sign (8/26/67, #49 RB)
  2. Crosscut Saw (1/7/67, #34 RB)
  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 (6/26/66, #29 RB)
  10. As the Years Go Passing By
  11. The Very Thought of You


3.812 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings)


“One of the very greatest electric blues albums of all time” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Albert King recorded a lot in the early ‘60s, including some classic sides, but they never quite hit the mark. They never gained a large audience, nor did they really capture the ferocity of his single-string leads. Then he signed with Stax in 1966 and recorded a number of sessions with the house band, Booker T. & the MG’s, and everything just clicked.” STE They gave King “crossover appeal” WK with their “sleek, soulful sound,” WK “providing an excellent contrast to his tightly wound lead guitar, allowing to him to unleash a torrent of blistering guitar runs that were profoundly influential, not just in blues, but in rock & roll. STE Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughan have acknowledged how King influenced them. WK

Born Under a Bad Sign collected singles released in 1966 and 1967 as well as additional studio cuts. WK “The concentration of singles gives the album a consistency – these were songs devised to get attention – but, years later, it’s astounding how strong this catalog of songs is: Born Under a Bad Sign, Crosscut Saw, Oh Pretty Woman, The Hunter, Personal Manager, and Laundromat Blues form the very foundation of Albert King’s musical identity and legacy.” STE

“The songs are exceptional and the performances are rich, from King’s dynamic playing to the Southern funk of the MG’s. It was immediately influential at the time and, over the years, it has only grown in stature as one of the very greatest electric blues albums of all time.” STE “It was the great divide of modern blues, the point at which the music was rescued from slipping into derivative obscurity.” WK


In 1998, Sundazed Records reissued the album with two additional bonus tracks, both written by Albert King. Those tracks are the rare mono single B-sides Funk-Shun and Overall Junction, which originally appeared on the Stax singles ‘Laundromat Blues’ and ‘Oh, Pretty Woman,’ respectively.” WK

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First posted 11/13/2008; last updated 3/18/2024.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Today in Music (1967): The Doors hit #1 with “Light My Fire”

Light My Fire

The Doors

Writer(s): John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison (see lyrics here)

Released: April 1967

First Charted: May 27, 1967

Peak: 13 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 1 CL, 7 UK, 2 CN, 16 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 71.65 video, 305.65 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The song that “positively dripped with sexual desire” TC was a fitting launch for the Doors and, with “Jim Morrison’s beauty, akin to that of Michelangelo’s David,” TB established the band’s frontman as one of rock’s most legendary sex symbols. Morrison was the band’s chief songwriter, but “Light My Fire” emerged after he challenged the rest of the band to come up with material. SS According to keyboardist Ray Manzarek, Jim said at a band rehearsal, “Everyone go home this weekend and write at least one song.” MM Guitarist Robby Krieger responded with the first song he ever wrote. He said the melody was inspired by “Hey Joe” by the Leaves and the idea of writing about fire came from the Rolling Stones’ “Play with Fire.” MM Krieger also got help from the band in writing the song. He explained, “Ray had the idea for the opening part, which was the real hook. Jim helped me out on some of the lyrics...and the beat was John [Densmore]’s idea.” FB

The song had more than just sex. Its blatant reference to drug use with the line “We couldn’t get much higher” got the band in trouble with the Ed Sullivan Show. The band had promised to replace the word “higher” when performing the song on a live television broadcast, but sang it anyway, getting them permanently banned from the show. AMG

The group wasn’t thinking of the song as a single when they created the version that runs near seven minutes on LP. FB The Doors knew how to “extend songs to satisfy LSD-fueled crowds on the dance floor.” MM It is “the only one a sane person would play.” RC However, it was whittled down to less than three minutes for radio consumption – a move which meant stripping it of “all of the instrumental breaks which are the heart of the song.” RC “Manzarek’s manic organ runs particularly prominent” TB and Larry Knechtel, who played the opening chords on the legendary “Mr. Tambourine Man” by the Byrds, played bass. SS After the song hit #1, though, many radio stations opted for the longer version, which today remains mainstay of album rock radio. FB

Proving its power beyond the psychedelic and sexual revolutions of the sixties with which the song became synonymous, AMG the song also garnered José Feliciano a Grammy in 1969 for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance of his flamenco version of the song. More than two decades later, when Oliver Stone’s 1991 film biopic The Doors WK rekindled interest in the band, the song trounced its original #49 peak on the UK charts by landing all the way up at #7. The UK also gave Amii Stewart a #5 hit with the song in 1979 and Will Young took it to #1 in 2002.


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Last updated 4/28/2024.