Sunday, September 27, 2009

Albert COLLINS - Iceman 1991

Albert COLLINS - Iceman 1991
Label: Virgin
Audio CD (June 29, 1992)


This CD is a collector's item. It went out-of-print several years ago and has now been discontinued in the US. It is Albert's last studio session and it's important as it was the basis for most of the video footage we have of him, namely "Live at Mt Fuji", "Live from Austin, Texas" and the fantastic "Live at Montreux" DVDs.

This CD features the basic tunes he performed at the end of his life. They were mostly written by Collin's and his wife Grendolyn. Yes they have funk, but I would still count them as Blues. "Mr Collins, Mr Collins" is at the beginning and end (with a faded version and it is faded!!!) is a great instrumental in the Collins tradition. There is also a good version of this on the Albert Collin's instructional DVD (Warner Music) with Albert and Keith Wyatt playing together. Albert is even unplugged with his Telecaster (well it's very low)! A very clever funk-blues style with interesting changes.

"Iceman" is the feature tune in this set but it's not as good as the live versions. It's slower than he ever played it live. And the solo's are not as cutting and dynamic. But that is generally how Collin's played. As has been pointed out in so many reviews, Collins was a live performance bluesman. That was his forte. In the studio he could never get that biting sound of the Fender Quad Amp at 10 with the treble at 10 and the bright switch on.

Personally I love Albert's slow blues numbers. "Don't Mistake Kindness For Weakness" is another classic and probably the best tune in the set. It is six minutes of cool blues music and lyrics. "Travellin South" is an exceptional tune. After what I previously said, this tune is better on the album than on his live DVD sets. The mix is great and the stop time intro superb. "Put The Shoe On The Other Foot" is a funky blues with a message. Good music and lyrics, he sometimes used this number to do his crowd-walk-through at the end of his live sets, watch him on "Montreux" released this year (2008).

"I'm Beginning to Wonder" is a great blues tune in 6th chords with guest guitarist Debbie Davies, who played with Collin's in the 1980s. Her backup is superb. This number is probably the truest "Blues" tune of the set, except for "Weakness", of course. I first heard "Head Rag", written by Collin's wife, on the great Live from Austin, Texas DVD when it was a VHS tape. That version is much funkier and cool with Texan Derek O'Brien on second guitar. This version does grow on you however. It has a strange bridge and ending, but that's Collin's, funny and unpredictable.

"The Hawk" is a talking blues with Jazz overtones. Like the great Albert King, Collins enjoyed talking blues and he is also very good at it. This tune is about Chicago and it's icy wind. Listen to the first note in the solo--best on the whole album--one note-- that's Collin's he it makes a whole statement. It's similar to Mike Bloofield's famous first note in the second solo of "Killing Floor" on the Electric Flag LP. The final tune before the reprise is "Blues For Gabe" another Collin's style instrumental. Well done with a good horn solo as well.

Collin's died in 1993 aged only 61. He never received the credit he was due with his distinctive, innovative and individual sound, phrasing and tone. No one sounds like Albert Collins and no one has filled his shoes. This album was his last and it's been, at least in Australia, almost impossible to get. I secured a used copy from a music store in Sydney only a few weeks ago and paid a lot more than $10! You should get the downloaded version here and see how Collin's played at the end of his career. It is a distinctive CD. And in the last two months has just been re-released in Europe so you may be able to get a copy if you want one.
By Perry Celestino.
Albert Collins doesn't change anything for his major label debut, Iceman. Like its predecessors, it is slick and professional, featuring a variety of shuffles, R&B tunes, and slow blues, all stamped with Collins's trademark icy wail. None of the songs or performances are particularly noteworthy, but Iceman is a solid set that delivers the goods for fans of his style. ~ Thom Owens, All Music Guide
Albert Collins- (Guitar, Vocals),
Debbie Davies- (Rhythm Guitar),
Crispin Cioe- (Alto,Baritone Sax ),
Bob Funk- (Trombone),
Johnny B. Gayden- (Bass),
Eddie Harsch- (Keyboards),
Arno Hecht- (Tenor Sax),
Charles Hodges- (Organ),
Mabon "Teenie" Hodges- (Rhythm Guitar),
Jack Holder- (Rhythm Guitar),
Hollywood Paul Litteral- (Trumpet),
Debbie Jamison- (Vocals Background),
Soko Richardson- (Percussion, Drums),
Vicki Loveland- (Vocals Background))
01. Mr Collins, Mr Collins 5:10
02. Iceman 5:02
03. Don't Mistake Kindness For Weakness 6:10
04. Travellin' South 3:05
05. Put The Shoe On The Other Foot 5:31
06. I'm Beginning To Wonder 4:10
07. Head Rag 3:52
08. The Hawk 2:36
09. Blues For Gabe 3:41
10. Mr. Collins, Mr. Collins (Faded Version) 3:56

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