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March 2007

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Corey Stevens
Ruf Records

Corey Stevens

Albert King is one of the three great Kings of the blues, and if he's not one of the most influential blues guitarists, his powerful string-bending attack is certainly one of the most imitated. Such highly respected guitarists as Jimi Hendrix, Otis Rush, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Carl Weathersby all based at least part of their guitar style heavily on King's muscular approach.

Corey Stevens has long been compared to Stevie Ray Vaughan, but in fact he, like Vaughan, was influenced by Albert King and had even covered "Crosscut Saw" and "I'll Play The Blues For You” on his first album. It's appropriate that he pay tribute to one of his musical inspirations with Albertville, his first release on Ruf Records.

Stevens' previous releases have proved that he is a gifted composer as well as guitarist and singer who has branched out far beyond the early SRV comparisons, but Albertville is a change for Stevens, who usually writes his own material for his albums. This time around, he features nine songs either written or covered by King, but does slip in one original composition, "Another Pretty Face," a clever song that fits in perfectly with the cover tunes.

While there are faithful versions of several of King's classic songs that will be familiar to even casual fans ("Breaking Up Somebody's Home," "Cold Women With Warm Hearts," "I Get Evil," and "Got To Be Some Changes Made"), Stevens wisely chooses some of King's more obscure songs as well. These tracks, while not as well known as others, are an excellent representation of King's overall style, and include "A Real Good Sign," a standout with its punchy horns, "That's What The Blues Is All About," and the funky "Little Brother (Make A Way)."

Stevens plays these songs in King's style, but is more reverential than derivative. He never overdoes it, opting for a crisper, cleaner style. Vocally, he's always resembled Vaughan somewhat, but has gradually developed his own distinctive voice over time and does a great job on this disc. The band, which includes former AWB and Clapton drummer Steve Ferrone, is top-notch.

Corey Stevens continues to amaze and impress with the depth and breadth of his talent on every release. Albertville is a wonderful tribute to one of the blues' biggest stars, by an artist who has learned his lessons well.

--- Graham Clarke


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