Blues Bytes


April 2016

Guy King
Delmark Records

Guy King

I first heard guitarist Guy King as part of the late Willie Kent’s band on Kent’s disc, Comin’ Alive. His crisp, stinging lead guitar blew my socks off, so I was glad to be able to review his debut solo release, Livin’ It, a few years later in 2009. That debut was a promising set that mixed blues with R&B and soul and showed King to be as gifted a singer and songwriter as a guitarist. King released two more albums on his own before signing with Delmark Records to release his fourth album, Truth, an excellent and entertaining disc that should satisfy a whole bunch of blues fans.

Produced by Dick Shurman and recorded at Delmark’s Riverside Studio in Chicago, Truth consists of 15 songs, four originals which include an instrumental penned by King and three written in collaboration with renowned musical biographer David Ritz (a longtime King fan who also contributes liner notes, and is no stranger to songwriting, having co-authored “Sexual Healing” with Marvin Gaye), along with 11 cover tunes that cover a wide range of musical styles from blues and jazz to R&B and pop.

King’s fretwork shows influences from another pair of Kings, B.B. & Albert, along with T-Bone Walker, but he has a clear and distinctive style all his own. His vocals are strong and rich and it’s obvious he acknowledges classic R&B singers such as Ray Charles and Percy Mayfield as influential in his style. In fact, four of the cover tunes are from that pair. Charles is well-represented by the fantastic opener, “The Same Thing That Can Make You Laugh (Can Make You Cry)” and “Hey Now,” while Mayfield’s “Cookin’ In Style” and “Something’s Wrong” are also present.

Guy also ably handles tunes associated with B.B. King (Doc Pomus and Dr. John’s “There Must Be A Better World Somewhere” and “Bad Case of Love”), Albert King (“If This Washing Don’t Get You (The Rinsing Will),” and Johnny “Guitar” Watson (a great reading of “It’s About The Dollar Bill”). There’s also a fine cover of the standard “I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues,” a soulful take on the Steve Cropper/Don Covay classic “See Saw,” and a tender version of the ’80s pop hit “One Hundred Ways.”

The originals are all first rate, too. King and Ritz’s tunes include the jazzy title track, “My Happiness” (a R&B duet with Sarah Marie Young), and a fine slow blues, “A Day In The Life With The Blues.” King gets powerful support from Amr Marcin Fahmy (Rhodes, B3), Jake Vinsel (bass), George Fludas (drums), a crackerjack horn section (Marques Carroll – trumpet, Christopher Neal – tenor sax, Brent Griffin, Jr. – baritone sax) and sweet backing vocals (Young, Kiara Shackleford, Jihan Murray-Smith).

If you’re a fan of classic traditional blues with a contemporary bent, Truth will be one of the best albums that you’ll hear this year. There’s little doubt at all that Guy King is one of the rising superstars of the blues and this release should remove any remaining doubt.

--- Graham Clarke
Read Graham's blog


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