Al King

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"Telling these guys named Al King apart is like looking for a specific dune in the desert," a research assistant griped to his boss, vintage R&B blaring on a jukebox in the background. "That's a good…
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"Telling these guys named Al King apart is like looking for a specific dune in the desert," a research assistant griped to his boss, vintage R&B blaring on a jukebox in the background. "That's a good image," the clever musicologist snapped, "because the guy you are looking for used to record for a label called Sahara!" Indeed, that is surely a better way of keeping track of this particular Al King than to think up some connection with Shirley, the name of another indie label that likewise put out his sides in the '60s and '70s. The collected Shirley and Sahara singles were reissued in 1996 on the Forever More imprint on a collection entitled Blues Master. "My Name is Misery" and "Think Twice Before You Speak" indicate some of King's range as a performer, in this case from the pathetic to the threatening. "My Money Ain't Long Enough" and "Blue Shadows" are other King titles mixing compelling and common imagery. Many of these sides feature lead guitarist Johnny Heartsman, also a bandleader whom King began collaborating with in Oakland during the '60s. The musical results are considered by some blues listeners to be a supreme example of the sound and style from this era and area.