Judge Ryan Keefer knew he was going to have problems when he starting drinking that Blind Dog Bourbon.
Another blues legend, another performance at a blues and jazz festival, another review for you to see.
For those who like to do the obligatory movie tie-in, Albert Collins is known as one of the musicians who Elisabeth Shue shared the stage with in Adventures in Babysitting, and to be sure Collins seemed to possess a unique look with a soul patch of sorts and his slightly pronounced cheekbones, with his face contorting into various "oohs" and "aahs" during the songs he played onstage.
For those unfamiliar with Collins' work, he grew up in Texas with a wide variety of blues influences, and the music he plays sounds like a mix of Kansas City and Chicago blues styles. One could say that Collins' songs sound a lot like B.B. King's, save for powerful vocals. But Collins' songs are more about jamming and feeling the blues in instrumental expression, and a lot of his work reflects the joy of the jam. In addition, he influenced other guitar performers like Texas native Stevie Ray Vaughn in the process.
In a cruel twist of fate, Collins' invitation to the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1992 would presumably be the last recorded concert footage of the blues guitarist, as he died in 1993 from complications of cancer. This all too brief setlist from Collins' show is as follows:
As a bit of a bonus, there are four songs from Collins' earlier appearance at the 1979 festival, and they are:
• "Listen Here"
Aside from what we now know about Collins' health at the time of the '92 show, it seems like that performance is a lot more unrestrained and free-spirited, whereas the '79 performance is tighter and more focused. They are both good performances, but for different reasons. In '92, Collins was certainly aware of his health problems, so he went at it full-out, with guitars blistering and entrances the audience enough that they are fully invested in his performance by the end of it. In fact, he doesn't hesitate to mingle among the normally reserved Montreux crowd, in order to get them involved even if they didn't want to, and it's a bold call that winds up working. The 1979 show appears to be a taste of that, and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown even appears for a tune, but the only regret in seeing this footage is that there wasn't more of it.
On the plus side technically, the '92 performance footage is in 16:9 widescreen, so even though the '79 is in full frame, both presentations are average in terms of video quality. The audio comes with a choice of DTS, PCM and Dolby 5.1 surround, and the DTS seems to possess a little more robust sound than the PCM track, with a little more active low end. But all three sound options are capable and even a little bit immersive.
As far as fans of music go, Albert Collins' work seems to have gone a little unnoticed through the years, even for blues virtuosos. At the very least, this disc requires a minimum of time, but results in a maximum of quality electric blues, and it's worth your time to explore.
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