Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mr. Tate & Albert King

Baby Tate- See What You Done Done

"In the course of his nearly 50-year career, guitarist Baby Tate recorded only a handful of sessions. The bulk of his life was spent as a sideman, playing with musicians like Blind Boy Fuller, Pink Anderson, and Peg Leg Sam.

Born Charles Henry Tate, he was born in Elberton, GA, but raised in Greenville, SC. When he was 14 years old, Tate taught himself how to play guitar. Shortly afterward, he began playing with Blind Boy Fuller, who taught Tate the fundamentals of blues guitar. When he was in his late teens, Baby began playing with Joe Walker and Roosevelt Brooks; the trio played clubs throughout the Greenville area.

In 1932, Tate stopped working with Walker and Brooks, hooking up with Carolina Blackbirds. The duo played a number of shows for the radio station WFBC. For most of the '30s, Baby played music as a hobby, performing at local parties, celebrations, and medicine shows.

Tate served in the U.S. Army in the late '30s and early '40s. While he was stationed in Europe, he played local taverns and dances. In 1942, he returned to Greenville, SC, where he earned a living doing odd jobs around the town. Tate picked up music again in 1946, setting out on the local blues club circuit. In 1950, he cut several sessions for the Atlanta-based Kapp label.

In the early '50s, Baby moved to Spartanburg, SC, where he performed both as a solo act and as a duo with Pink Anderson. Tate and Anderson performed as duo into the '70s.

In 1962, Tate recorded his first album, See What You Done. The following year, he was featured in the documentary film, The Blues. For the rest of the decade, Baby Tate played various gigs, concerts, and festivals across America. With the assistance of harmonica player Peg Leg Sam, Baby Tate recorded another set of sessions in 1972. Later that year, Tate suffered a fatal heart attack. He died on August 17, 1972."

Album Review:
"Recorded during the blues revival of the early '60s, The Blues of Baby Tate: See What You Done Done is a wonderful collection of country blues. Tate's teacher was Blind Boy Fuller, and his influence shines through on the album. That doesn't mean that See What You Done Done is simply a Fuller record, however -- Tate has absorbed his influence and developed his own warm, rambling style that suits these traditional numbers perfectly."

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Albert King- Live '69

Album Review:
"Recorded at a single show on May 29, 1969, in Madison, WI's 400-seat club The Cue, these tapes were first released in 2003. The performance finds Albert King, who had just turned 46, arguably at his career peak. Even though there are just five tracks, it's enough to understand why he remains one of electric postwar blues' most seminal figures. Since this shares no songs with Live Wire/Blues Power, which was recorded a year earlier, and features concert versions of "Crosscut Saw," "Personal Manager," and "As the Years Go Passing By" from his legendary Born Under a Bad Sign album, it's an important document. King's in excellent form too, ripping into the tunes with edgy energy, even if many of his solos and licks will be familiar to blues listeners. The well-written liner notes neglect to mention who is in his backing band, but the group fades into the background anyway through a poor mix that relegates the drums to sounding like trash cans. Thankfully King is front and center, and although the audio is inferior to the Fillmore West shows documented on the Live Wire and Wednesday/Thursday Night In San Francisco albums, it's clear enough to get a feel for how powerful the guitarist could be, even in front of a small crowd. At over 17 minutes, "Please Come Back to Me" is the set's longest and most intense track as King pulls out all of his tricks on a rare rendition of a song found on only a few discs. It alone is worth the price of this album, which, with crisper sound, would be the guitarist's best live show from this period. Even with its abbreviated length, a few bum notes, and a barely audible band, this is prime King and an essential acquisition for all fans."

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