King Curtis

Instant Groove [Compilation]

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King Curtis's most spectacular playing was done for Atlantic in the late '50s, as saxman for the Coasters and at the helm of the solo excursions reissued here (plus those on the out-of-print Atlantic Honkers anthology). Seven of the upper deck's eight sides are from this period, and they stand as some of the greatest sax instrumentals ever done -- especially the jungle groove of "Castle Rock," and the piping hot "Chili," and the regal frenzy of "Restless Guitar" and "Boss." The A-side closer is the first of nine cuts from his second stint with Atlantic, which lasted from 1965 until his tragic death in 1971. "Rocky Roll" is a "tribute-to-rock" number, quoting "Haunted House," "Yakety Yak," "Maybelline," "Slippin' and Slidin'," and more, which is only cool if your living room already resembles a scene out of Beach Blanket Bingo. This is a tough act to follow, and the late-'60s waxings on the flip side, though commercially successful soul formula hits, sound sadly uninspired today. The slow funk of "Cookout" and his remake of Big Jay's "There Is Something on Your Mind" are the only tunes that don't tread on Junior Walker's turf.

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