King Curtis – Live At Fillmore West (1971)

lpfrontcover1Live at Fillmore West is an album by King Curtis, released in 1971. The album showcases the concert he played with his band The Kingpins at the Fillmore West venue in San Francisco in March 1971 who were supporting and backing soul singer Aretha Franklin. A week after its release in August 1971, Curtis was stabbed to death outside his brownstone apartment in New York City.

It was reissued on compact disc in the 1990s through Rhino Records and was released in an expanded edition in 2006. In addition it was released as an expanded edition four-CD box set entitled, Don’t Fight the Feeling: The Complete Aretha Franklin & King Curtis Live At Fillmore West by Rhino Handmade in 2005, featuring the complete concert by King Curtis and Aretha Franklin. This edition was limited to 5000 numbered copies.

Recorded at the Fillmore West concert hall, the storied rock venue in San Francisco, over three nights, March 5, 6 and 7, 1971. King Curtis and his band the Kingpins were supporting Aretha Franklin as well as being her backing band. The album opens with his own composition “Memphis Soul Stew” but the bulk of the album is taken with cover versions of recent rock and soul recordings including Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”. His version of Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” found renewed fame when used in the opening title sequence of cult British comedy film Withnail and I. The film is set in 1969, two years before its performance.

Professionally Curtis was having a prolific and successful summer that year. Aretha Franklin’s Live at Fillmore West album was a huge hit, he had contributed to two tracks on John Lennon’s album, Imagine, recorded the theme to the television show Soul Train and had made a highly acclaimed performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. It was in this climate that his album Live at Fillmore West was released in August 1971. A week after its release, Curtis was stabbed to death outside his brownstone apartment in New York City following an argument with two junkies. The day after he died the album peaked at No. 54 on the Billboard 200 album chart, his greatest success as a solo artist. (by wikipedia)


Recorded in front of an enthusiastic audience and released just one week before Curtis’ murder in 1971, Live at Fillmore West is a brilliant confirmation of the saxophonist’s place in popular music. Backed up by Atlantic’s top session men, as well as Billy Preston and the Memphis Horns, Curtis rips through some of the biggest hits of the day, transforming them into showcases for his soulful playing and the group’s outstanding rhythmic interplay. Beautiful renditions of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and “I Stand Accused” are highlights, but it’s full-throttle rockers like “Changes” and “Memphis Soul Stew” that comprise the heart of the album. Curtis occasionally gets lost in the mix, but it doesn’t matter; with so much great music going on, you probably won’t notice. (by Jim Smith)


King Curtis (saxophone)
Cornell Dupree (guitar)
Jerry Jemmott (bass)
Pancho Morales (percussion)
Billy Preston (organ)
Bernard Purdie (drums)
Truman Thomas (piano)
The Memphis Horns:
Jack Hale (trombone)
Roger Hopps (trumpet)
Wayne Jackson (trumpet)
Andrew Love (saxophone)
Jimmy Mitchell (saxophone)

01. Memphis Soul Stew (Ousley) 7.41
02. A Whiter Shade of Pale (Brooker/Reid) 5.26
03. Whole Lotta Love (Dixon/Plant/Page/Jones/Bo2.16
04. I Stand Accused (Butler) 6.05
05. Them Changes (Miles) 7.01
06. Ode To Billie Joe (Gentry) 3.22
07. Mr. Bojangles (Walker) 4.30
08. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours (Garrett/Hardaway/Wonder/Wright) 2.37
09. Soul Serenade (Dixon/Ousley), King Curtis 5.32




“King” Curtis Ousley (February 7, 1934 – August 13, 1971)



Various Artists – Soul Christmas (1968)

FrontCover1Originally issued as an Atlantic compilation back in 1968, Soul Christmas is just what is says: a collection of songs featuring R&B legends such as Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Solomon Burke, Joe Tex, Clarence Carter, William Bell, King Curtis, and Booker T. & the MG’s. But if you’re looking for a compilation of mostly traditional Christmas tunes, this is not the record to buy. Apart from nods to time-honored classics like “White Christmas” (gloriously reinterpreted by Redding), Booker T.’s perky “Jingle Bells,” and the R&B favorite “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” (featuring sax man King Curtis at his bluesy best, along with a guitar solo by Duane Allman), the songs are all tailor-made originals that fit the style of the respective artists. Thus, Carter’s “Back Door Santa” is a hilariously salacious cut; Tex gives us a preacherlike “I’ll Make Everyday Christmas (For My Woman)”; and Thomas is at her most cute and innocent with “Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas.” Redding’s version of “Merry Christmas Baby” (a hit for Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers) is an obvious standout, while Bell’s “Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday” is the only bona fide charted single (albeit back in January 1968). For added value, Rhino has included three bonus tracks, including a 1978 recording by Ray Charles of “Christmas Time.” (by David Nathan)

01. Clarence Carter: Back Door Santa (Carter) 2.10
02. King Curtis: The Christmas Song (feat. Duane Allman) (Tormé/Wells) 3.11
03. Otis Redding: White Christmas (feat. Booker T & The MG´s + The Memphis Horns) (Berlin) 3.09
04. Joe Tex: I’ll Make Every Day Christmas (For My Woman) (Tex) 3.32
05. Booker T. & The MG’s: Silver Bells (Evans/Livingstone) 2.33
06. Carla Thomas: Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas (Cropper) 2.47
07. Otis Redding: Merry Christmas Baby (feat. Booker T & The MG´s + The Memphis Horns) (Traditional) 2.34
08. Solomon Burke: Presents For Christmas )D.Burke/S.Burke) 3.13
09. Booker T. & The MG’s: Jingle Bells (Traditional) 2.238
10. William Bell: Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday (Bell) 2.40
11. King Curtis: What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve (feat. Duane Allman) (Loesser) 3.45
12. Carla Thomas: All I Want For Christmas Is You (Williams) 1.45
13. Ray Charles: Christmas Time (Shepard) 4.31
14. Booker T. & The MG’s: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Gillespie/Coots) 2.35


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