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Guy King - Livin' It

IBF Records

Run Time: 54:05

Guy King has served time. No, not that kind of time. He's served time in the Windy City as a bluesman. Starting out in Memphis and New Orleans, King made the trek like many before him to the home of the blues where he hooked up with Little Mac Simmons and Aaron Burton from Albert Collins' Icebreakers and then got set up with Willie Kent and the Gents. Eventually King became the leader of the band and the famous bass man's right hand man. King's touch can be heard at the production controls on Kent's acclaimed Comin' Alive album.

After Kent's death, King assembled his current six-piece band. Oh, did I mention he did over 300 dates a year and did a couple world tours under Kent, too. He's road tested. Now, he's a fixture on Chicago's South and West Side clubs. And as my friend in Chicago, Kevin Johnson of Delmark Records put it, King "is one of the top and most dynamic blues guitarists in Chicago."

Think late period Albert King soul-blues and mix in the horns and the stinging guitar work of Albert Collins jams and you've got Guy King's sound. His blue-eyed soul voice is very adequate and carries his songs well but definitely not captivating. His knack for original songwriting is superb. Check the catchy "Go Out and Get It" or the title track. The band is rock solid tight. Note how they turn on a dime to a slow-shuffling blues groove from the upbeat album instrumental "Countdown" into the song "Think." That's tight. King shows off some tasty slow blues licks to start "My Pretty Baby." Ben Paterson's electric piano smooth electric piano adds some wonderful coloring underneath King's beautifully woven leads. King's only faltering moments on the disc is where he tries to stretch his vocals beyond their talents, especially on crooners like "I'm Still In Love With You." King gives fair reading to the aforementioned Collins on "If You Love Me Like You Say" and turns in one of his best vocal performances on the disc. His guitar soloing lacks a little of the punch that is a signature call on the song. However, it is original and funky though a little less in your face than it should be.

King's guilty of catering to slow soul-blues on this disc. There are way too many laid back grooves which could've kindly been broken up with a fewer fast paced Chicago shuffles here and there. Again, the blues is best played slow but not to the point of a lull. King's fully in touch with feel and groove and his competence on the slow tunes I speak of make this disc a nice feature and beginning to King's blooming solo career. His live shows are energetic and passionate and are well-worth any trip to Chicago's blues sides of the city, especially if you want to see a young guy hang out and play like the old dogs. King's still got a continued climb to reach the heights of his influences, but he's well on his way and he's definitely livin' it.

Reviewed by Ben "the Harpman" Cox. Visit his website Juke Joint Soul

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