THERE'S NO ARGUING with the title of guitarist Albert King's latest release: "I Wanna Get Funky." The album's nine tunes date back to the early '70s, when King was still recording for the Stax label, serving up the blues with a generous helping of Memphis soul.
With churning rhythms supplied by the Bar-Kays and glinting riffs by the Memphis Horns, King gets his wish. True, the songs aren't nearly as impressive as the groove, but the backing is so solid that even the slightest lyric is redeemed by a contagiously soulful rhythm track. The long vamp used to open the talking blues " 'Til My Back Ain't Got No Bone" is typical. It's simple but powerfully seductive and easily holds your interest until the horns kick in.
Some longtime fans will no doubt have problems with King's remake of "Crosscut Saw," which does seem a little glib here, and the uninspired level of the songwriting overall. But for the most part King delivers on his promise, singing in his natural, smokey baritone, tossing off some piercing guitar licks and letting the rhythms lead the way. ALBERT KING --
"I Wanna Get Funky" (Stax MPS 8536). Appearing with Koko Taylor through Sunday at Blues Alley.