King Curtis

King of the Sax

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King Curtis and his bubbling, stutter-style tenor sax playing brought a touch of jazz and a whole ton of R&B to countless rock & roll tracks in the early '60s, and his funky edge is one of the reasons records by the Coasters, for instance, continue to sound good 40 years later. This collection brings together a nice set of solo Curtis singles, kicking off with his first hit, "Soul Twist," and its B-side, "Twisting Time," which came out on Enjoy Records in 1962. Curtis was a more versatile musician than many people realize (he did sessions with artists as varied as Lonnie Donegan and Andy Williams, and shows it here by going sans sax, playing a solid electric guitar and handling the vocals on a two-part version of the Ray Charles classic "What'd I Say." Curtis shows himself right at home in Memphis soul territory, too, with the Booker T. & the MG's-styled "Hot Potato (Piping Hot)." The haunting and slightly ominous instrumental "Midnight Blue" is another highlight included here, although one wishes room could have been found for one of Curtis' best tunes, "Soul Serenade," which featured Curtis on saxello. That omission aside, King of the Sax makes for a fine introduction to this extraordinary musician.

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