Red Lightnin’ 1971 / Angel Air 2013
The Telecaster master rocks the Fillmore – raw and wild, with energy untamed.
One of the most influential blues guitarists, Albert Collins cut an imposing sonic presence and left an indelible impression on the young generation of British axemen who learnt a lot from his early singles. One of such fans was Jeremy Spencer, and it’s thanks to him that this 1969 show was preserved for posterity when FLEETWOOD MAC shared the Fillmore West stage with their heroes, so the historic significance of it outweighs the sound, rough yet capturing the nuclear power of each note.
With an now-unascertained yet cracking band where Hammond backs his six-string twang, Collins rocks tightly from the off on a selection of classics such as the groovy “Mustang Sally”, a reflection of Albert’s Texas connection, and Iceman’s own Chicago-striped perennials, the cosmic “Deep Freeze” and “Thaw Out”, yet is the most moody on slow numbers like “So Tired” or “How Blue Can You Get” where he engages an audience in the enchanted call-and-response.
More traditional approach is obvious on Collins’ bell-chiming reading of “Baby What Do You Want Me To Do”, to which Albert applies a hilariously lazy slant as if to give Jimmy Reed’s tune another meaning, and in the elegant shuffle “Backstroke”, present here also in a studio version alongside other aforementioned singles. Among the bonus tracks, laid down from 1958 to 1962, are unhurried “Defrost” and “Freeze” with a slinky sax solo, plus the fluttering, brass-wielding “Albert’s Alley” – quite commercial for the bluesman’s money, yet infectious to the core. Cool in both senses of the word, and at the same time hot as hell, Albert Collins’ music must be experienced in this setting, so hop on and roll with it.