Why We Picked This Record
Andrew Winistorfer, Editorial Director & Classics A&R: If you’ve been following along on our Classics subscription, you know that I am extremely into Stax Records. I have the tattoo to prove it (laughs). I knew I wanted to do an Albert King record for Classics, and some of the bigger ones have already been reissued multiple times, so I wanted one from his catalog that’s underrated and hasn’t been reissued as much. I first thought to do I’ll Play the Blues for You, which we did in our Stax Anthology box set. This is the second one — King Does the King’s Things — which is this record of nine Elvis covers; instead of doing straightforward covers, King’s really reimagining the catalog.
From a historical perspective, I was intrigued by the idea that Elvis’ rock sound came from rhythm-and-blues music, and Albert King was bringing Elvis songs back to the blues. Elvis becoming a celebrity in the ’50s basically invented the record industry in Memphis. He walked into a record label in downtown Memphis as a country bumpkin, and became this huge celebrity, which gave all these people in Memphis the idea that “If this idiot from the suburbs walked in and was able to do this, anybody in Memphis can do this.” In a way, without Elvis doing that, I don’t know that Stax Records exists. So, this record’s in conversation with the history of Memphis, the history of Stax, and to top it off, Albert King was at the peak of his powers in 1969; he was so good, and this is, at its heart, a great blues record.
I did the liner notes on this one because I identified this record a long time ago to do. I talked with Robert Gordon, and the Stax Museum curator Jeff Kollath about Albert King and this record. It was an opportunity to do the liners with knowledge I had from doing all these Stax projects.
We’re back to all-analog, triple-A 180-gram black vinyl, pressed at QRP in Kansas. This is the highest quality this record’s ever been released; they were not doing 180-gram vinyl in the ’60s, so it’s the best this album’s ever sounded. There’s a joke in our Music Meeting that this is the Storf Special: it’s a Stax Record that’s Classics that I wrote the liner notes for. There’s been Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, a lot of Stax projects over the time we’ve done Classics, and this is another one. We’ve got another Storf Special coming later this summer, too (laughs).