Al Collins

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Besides the famous blues guitarist Albert Collins, there are several performers in this genre with the same name who utilized the less formal Al Collins. This one was active in the '30s and '40s, his…
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Besides the famous blues guitarist Albert Collins, there are several performers in this genre with the same name who utilized the less formal Al Collins. This one was active in the '30s and '40s, his calling card a homemade instrument simply described as the "homemade bass" or the "imitation bass." Another performer of this type was Albert Elkins; both instrumentalists grew out of the rich tradition of concocting bass instruments out of anything that happens to be lying around, including washtubs, buckets, and boxes. Sometimes an even better bass sound could be created using a larger resonator that couldn't possibly be described as "lying around," such as the side of a barn. Both Elkins and Collins worked in the combos of Jazz Gillum, whose complete recordings have been reissued on the Document label. Besides the homemade rigs, both bassists also utilized actual upright basses on some of the tracks. Along with players such as Ransom Knowling and Bill Settles, Collins' basslines were an important part of the background transition between country blues, in which the use of bass sometimes seems like an afterthought, and a new urban blues that would be dominated by much louder and eventually funkier basslines.