It was ten years after his debut album that the brilliant, Indianola, Mississippi-born guitarist Albert Nelson released his seventh studio LP, I’ll Play The Blues For You. If the name’s not immediately familiar it’s because, when he started out as a professional musician, Nelson renamed himself Albert King, after another King who grew up in the same town, B.B. King.
It was in 1967 that Albert King released what many consider to be his standout album, Born Under A Bad Sign, but, I’ll Play The Blues For You is an equally fine record and one that should be in every blues fan’s collection.
It was recorded in Memphis and released by Stax Records, and features the outstanding musical contributions of The Bar-Kays and The Movement as the rhythm section: the latter group being Isaac Hayes’ regular back-up players on his string of outstanding recordings for Stax. It also features The Memphis Horns.
I’ll Play The Blues For You record opens with its title track, which was also released as a single by Stax. It immediately lets you know what is so appealing about Albert King. Of course, his guitar is wonderfully evocative, but then so is his singing; he had one of the finest voices among guitar-toting blues men. The same sentiment can be applied to the soul-blues number “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home”: it’s Stax to the Max, but with a healthy dose of the blues.
On “Angel Of Mercy” – and throughout the album – the superb horns and rhythm section create the perfect musical backdrop for King to do his thing. The album made the lower reaches of the Billboard 200 on October 8, 1972, and stayed around for a couple of months, though it never rose higher than No.140. I’ll Play The Blues For You had the misfortune of coming out just as Stax were going into decline as a business, but the label continued to release some classy records – as this proves.