Albert Collins, The Complete Imperial Recordings (EMI Records)

This two-CD collection consists of the three albums Collins recorded in 1969 and 1970 as his career was just beginning to take off: Love Can Be Found Anywhere (Even in a Guitar), Trash Talkin’, The Compleat Albert Collins. As one of the blues’ foremost guitar heroes, Collins makes his guitar sing dem blues. Opting to pick with his fingers, rather than using a pick, and playing an open rather than standard tunings, the Iceman digs into his Telecaster and rips out some cold, sloppy and choppy licks. His sharp tone cuts through the mix of an excellent backup band with sparse horn parts, the organ and bass being especially ballsy.

With 100 minutes of music, this is fun listening with a diversity of selections, including many instrumentals and Collins’ playful sense of humor. He covers some low down and dirty twelve bar blues on “Got a Good Thing Gain’,” Texas shuffle on “Lip Service,” country blues on “Harris County Lineup,” Meters-style funk on “Jam It Up,” and even zydeco waltz on “Black Bottom Bayou,” sung in French. “Blend Down and Jam” is a hard-grooved funk that goes into straight-beat sixties rock ‘n’ roll. He covers the New Orleans R&B standard “The Things That I Used To Do,” and in “Conversation With Collins,” his guitar does the talking, acting the part of his sweet-talkin’ wife, and later, of an angry husband.