Sunday, October 13, 2002

King Records CD a worthy tribute




By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

King Records, Syd Nathan's revolutionary label, is the single most influential musical entity to come out of Cincinnati. It came along in the mid-1940s, at a critical juncture for both popular music and civil rights.

With jump blues by Wynonie Harris and hillbilly boogie by the Delmore Brothers, Kin g paved the way for rock 'n' roll. With a staff that included the pioneering African-American musicians producer Henry Glover and drummer Phillip Paul, both of whom recorded country as well as R&B hits, King was one of the first record companies that erased old color lines.

NEW & NOTED
map
Hidden Treasures: Cincinnati's Tribute to King Records' Legacy
Various artists
No label; 4 stars
$16.98 CD
Hidden Treasures is a perfect title for an album that brings King's music into the 21st century. The 17-track album feat ures internationally known musicians who live in the area as well as top players on the local scene. Like King, which recorded bluegrass, funk, jazz, urban and rural blues, honky-tonk country and full-tilt rockabilly until it closed with Mr. Nathan's death in 1968, Hidden Treasures is a joyfully mixed bag.

The set opens with a swinging “Train Kept a Rollin' ” by Eugene Goss and Rich Uncle S keleton that's true to Tiny Bradshaw's 1952 original. Blessid Union of Souls adds Beatle-esque touches to Lonnie Johnson's “Tomorrow Night,” a 1948 comeback hit for the '20s blues/jazz guitarist. Peter Frampton tears up Freddie King's guitar showcase “Hide Away” with original drummer Phillip Paul.

Producer Pat Kelly's Psychoacoustic Orchestra does a sophisticated jazz/funk workout on Jame s Brown's “Cold Sweat.”

Over The Rhine's Karin Bergquist is a post-modern Peggy Lee on “Fever” (originally cut for King by Little Willie John). OTR's sultry, minimalist approach makes “Fever” the CD's best mix of old and new.

From the King bluegrass catalog, the Ass Ponys bring out the mournfulness of the Stanley Brothers' “She's More to Be Pitied,” while Scotty Anderson and Ed C unningham rip up Don Reno's guitar showcase, “Country Boy Rock 'n' Roll.” For sweetly harmonized 'grass, there's the Katie Laur Band's “No Longer a Sweetheart of Mine.”

The Goshorns rock “Kansas City”; the Mistics croon “Dedicated to the One I Love”; P. Ann Everson Price essays a sassy “Henry's Got Flat Feet.”

Gravy 8 does a new “Twist” while Robin Lacy & DeZydeco add Cajun snap to another Hank Ballard hit, “Finger Poppin Time.”

Gary “Howlin' Blind Muddy Slim” Burbank adds risqui comedy (a staple of the original King) with “My Dingaling.”

The continuing evolution of the King sound can be heard in a hip-hop “Hide Away,” done by Bootsy Collins, Sonny Moorman and Freekbass.

“Train Kept a Rollin' ”also gets another ride, in the Stapletons' psychedelic, Yard-Byrds version.

Nothing symbolizes the black/white, rural/urban fusion of King Records better than the Sweet Alice/Dallas Moore “Good Rockin' Tonight.”

If there's a weakness to the CD, it's that it merely scratches the surface. There's much more hidden King treasure to be unearthed.

Hidden Treasures has its official release at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Covington's Madison Theater ($5; 859-655-4807). It's a benefit for the Inclusion Network. To order the CD, visit www.inclusion.org.

E-mail lnager@enquirer.com




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