Here is a great solid collection of blues orientated songs, delivered by the highly acclaimed daughter of the blues, Shirley King. It is indeed, a welcome addition to any album collection especially the fact that she is supported by a whole host of remarkable good musicians. The artist and performer in question is ‘Shirley King’ the blues-singing daughter of B.B. King
From a very young age and following exactly in her father’s footsteps she first started singing in her local Memphis gospel choir. Without doubt, this was at a time when Shirley was very much influenced by her father’s ever expanding celebrity status being one of the most influential blues musicians in the world. Such limelight exposure from her Father plying his trade introduced her to an underground blues related world of performers and musicians. A tough scene where continued employment was never a certain prospect for most.
Even though she spent her formative years enjoying the success of her father as a professional musician it was never going to be a chosen career path for her. Probably, having witnessed first-hand, the uncertainties of the music club scene she was looking for much greater security in work and so she did the wise thing and studied ‘Banking’ at college. It was not until much later in life, actually 1990, that she started to regularly perform as a blues singer. Where she secured a residency at the infamous award winning Chicago blues club Kingston Mines, located in the heart of the renowned “Blues Alley,” that where she made her mark.
“Blues for a King” is Shirley’s third album. An album in which her powerful gritty vocal style totally dominates the proceedings over and above the conglomerate of exceedingly good support musicians that have joined her for this slice of quite varying blues / soul music styles. It is certainly true to say that not all the songs are rooted in the traditional blues songbook with some compositions being versions lifted from the pen of British Band ‘Traffic’. But and I emphasise this is not a criticism because I believe it to be a curt nod of appreciation in the direction of those British bands who actually helped bring various blues frameworks and American blues artists to the attention of predominately white audiences. Such a curt nod would certainly be something Shirley would do because she is a true ambassador for the blues in its entirety and she believes in giving back. She has, for example, worked at the ‘Urban Gateways Arts Project’ teaching school children about the history of the blues and how it melds into American and world popular music culture.
By today’s standards the album could be considered a tad short at around 36 mins and it would have been good if a live track or two could have been added and where her true stage persona could have been captured for all to hear. Another grumble, whilst I’m grumbling is the shear fact that the delivery style of the Etta James track ‘At Last’ has been copied infinitum. How much better it would have been if a new approach had been adopted utilising Shirley’s true gritty vocal style.
Summary: A nice collection of songs delivered in the unmistakable earthy style of Shirley King with a whole host of top notch musicians.
1. All Of My Lovin’ feat. Joe Louis Walker
2. Feelin’ Alright feat. Duke Robillard
3. I Did You Wrong feat. Elvin Bishop
4. That’s All Right Mama feat. Pat Travers
5. Can’t Find My Way Home feat. Martin Barre
6. Johnny Porter feat. Arthur Adams
7. Feeling Good feat. Robben Ford
8. Give It All Up feat. Kirk Fletcher
9. Gallows Pole feat. Harvey Mandel
10. Hoodoo Man Blues feat. Junior Wells & Joe Louis Walker
11. At Last feat. Steve Cropper
Addition Info from Website -Even next to such high wattage guests as Joe Louis Walker, Robben Ford, Junior Wells, Pat Travers & Elvin Bishop, King absolutely shines as she performs spectacular version of the blues classics “Gallows Pole” and “Hoodoo Blues Man” as well as the soul hit “Johnny Porter” (originally by The Temptations) plus two songs by British rock band Traffic, “Can’t Find My Way Home” and “Feelin’ Alright?.” The album closes with a powerful version of Etta James’s unforgettable “At Last,” which signals that, at long last, Shirley King is finally getting the attention and recognition she so richly deserves.
Shirley quotes “I’m so thrilled that these great artists lent their amazing talents to my new album. I can’t thank them enough for believing in me. I’m so proud of this album and can’t wait for the world to hear it. I feel it’s my best work yet,”