Freddy King: Texas Oil – The Federal Recordings

Vinyl reissue contains tracks that provided templates for the British blues boom, including Hide Away and The Stumble


Freddy King’s absence from many books about jazz and blues may have something to do with the timing of his most definitive recordings, such as the start of the 1960s, when the singles collected in remastered form on this LP were cut for Federal Records.

Pop had arrived with shattering force, leaving King and others more as “influencers” than star turns, though among the cognoscenti he was up there with the best, including the other two Kings, B.B. and Albert. He was revered by Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Peter Green and other guitar luminaries of the music spawned by 1950s R&B.

Also referred to as “Freddie” King, he played on through the era in which the bands he inspired made more money than he did. He was playing up to the time of his death in 1976, combining the mellower style of Texas blues with its rawer Chicago cousin.

King’s strengths lay in the equivalent power and expressiveness of his guitar and his voice in only slightly varying arrangements. The guitar was often considered in no need of vocals, a fact demonstrated on the instrumental tracks of the eponymous Texas Oil and Hide Away, the latter King’s signature tune and a favourite of Clapton. Elsewhere, the singer and his guitar coast along together, their lines alternating in familiar antiphonal form on I’m Tore Down, for example, and complementing the voice’s wailing, as in the torrid guitar solo of Have You Ever Loved A Woman.

Those light variants include Sonny Thompson’s florid piano on You’ve Got To Love Her With A Feeling and Gene Redd’s eerie backing vocals that bookend Lonesome Whistle Blues. Drummer Philip Paul comes into his own beyond strict tempo marking and there’s more King guitar soloing distilled on San-Ho-Zay and The Stumble.

To view the uniform track widths of these recordings on the LP deck – 19 of them – one wonders what those who pre-dated the long-playing disc and CD did when playing live, with more space and time.

See See Baby; You’ve Got To Love Her With Feeling; Have You Ever Loved A Woman; Hide Away; I Love The Woman; Lonesome Whistle Blues; If You Believe; It’s Too Bad; I’m Tore Down (23.74) – Texas Oil; Sen-Sa-Shun; The Stumble; San-Ho-Zay; You Know That You Love Me; Sittin’ On The Boat Deck; Let Me Be; Takin’ Care Of Business; You Can’t Hide (25.77)
King (v, g); Fred Jordan (g); Bill Willis (b); Sonny Thompson (p); Philip Paul (d); Clifford Scott (ts) and others. Cincinnati and Chicago, 1960-62.
WaxTime Records 772309