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POP : THE OTHER KING OF THE BLUES : B.B. May be Better Known, but There Are No Flies on Albert

June 28, 1990|DON SNOWDEN

B.B. King and the late Muddy Waters may be better known to the general public, but Albert King rivals them as a blues artist who has made an indelible impression on the contemporary blues sound.

King, who plays the Coach House on Friday, doesn't really have a classic song associated with his name. His trademark is an instrumental style that has been a major influence on scores of guitarists. Rock heroes from Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton to present-day idols Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robert Cray have cited King's stinging tone, economy and ability to squeeze the maximum emotion from each precisely articulated note.

Born in Indianola, Miss., King played drums on some early Jimmy Reed sessions and started recording occasionally for small, St. Louis blues labels in 1953. He cut five songs for the influential Chess label in 1961 and enjoyed his first R&B chart hit the following year with "Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong" for King Records.

It wasn't until 1966, when he hooked up with the Memphis soul sound for an eight-year run on the Stax label, that his recording career took off. Backed by Booker T & the MGs on his early Stax sessions, King broke through with the landmark "Born Under a Bad Sign" album in 1967.

He immediately won more recognition by stepping on to the Fillmore rock circuit during that period--a move captured on his superb "Live Wire/Blues Power" live album--even as the innovative combination of soul rhythms and blues guitar kept his following strong among the bedrock blues audience.

He remains a fixture on the live blues circuit, having lost none of the emotive power in his plaintive singing or biting guitar playing. The Coach House performance may have special import: There have been persistent rumors over the past year that King, 67, is planning to retire or cut back on his live performance schedule.

Who: Albert King

When: Friday at 9 p.m.

Where: The Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano.

Whereabouts: Interstate 5 to the San Juan Creek Road exit. Left onto Camino Capistrano. The Coach House is in the Esplanade Center.

Wherewithal: $16.50

Where to call: (714) 496-8930. Tickets also available through Ticketmaster outlets, located in Music Plus and May Co. stores, or through the Ticketmaster chargeline: (714) 740-2000.

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