Hard to believe this album first saw the light of day 40 years ago.
While the title track has merit, and was a huge jukebox hit in blues territory, it was by no means the best track on the original album—and this is/was truly a landmark album. Written by Shreveport’s Jerry Beach, “I’ll Play the Blues” is primarily sold by King’s narrative to a lonely young lass. Ironically though, anyone who’d been around the cantankerous guitarist knows he was far more apt to cuss out a drummer or a sound man (ask Sonny Schneidau) than dispense Dear Abby advice to the lovelorn. More impressive was “Little Brother (Make A Way)”, which contained a post-civil rights message that still rings true today. So too was “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home,” which of course addresses a common blues theme, but one even a philanthropist can relate too. “I’ll Be Doggone”—the old Marvin Gaye hit—was a shot at attracting a younger audience, but it does really fit King’s style.
But now, despite its current political incorrectness, “Answer to the Laundromat Blues” is simply stunning. An answer to his first hit (from 1967), it’s a pretty damn funny song with a guitar track that will blister the paint on your car. The best track here might well be “Don’t Burn Down the Bridge (Cause You Might Wanna Come Back Across)”, which again features a timely message and a driving King guitar solo, and we are treated to two versions. If you didn’t get this one the first time around, here’s a chance to own a true blues classic.