Liner Note Author: Bill Dahl.
Of the three blues Kings, Freddie King often gets overshadowed by B.B. and Albert, so he's in need of a collection like Real Gone's 2013 The Complete King & Federal Singles, a two-disc set that rounds up all his greatest work. Sitting alongside these classics, songs so firmly embedded in our consciousness he sometimes doesn't get the credit he deserves -- songs like "Have You Ever Loved a Woman," "Hideaway," "San-Ho-Zay!," "The Stumble," "I'm Tore Down" -- there are singles where Freddie rode the wave of what was popular. He tried to dance "The Bossa Nova Watusi Twist," he flirted with a bit of funk, he got slick and greasy toward the end of the '60s, never winding up with chart success but never embarrassing himself. All this is documented on The Complete King & Federal Singles, a set that digs deeper than any collection outside of the comprehensive Bear Family boxes, but it's easier to digest and, for many, it will be preferable for that very reason. Also, it's not only easy to hear the arc of King's career; it's also easier to appreciate his brilliant highs, his stinging yet robust leads, and his full-throated vocals. All the major hits are here, of course, the songs that such guitarists as Eric Clapton copied, but what makes this so absorbing is hearing how King remained a forceful, compelling presence even when he was attempting to cash-in on trends. That's not so evident on either the early single-disc Rhino collection or the Bear Family set. By distilling King to his '60s singles, it's possible to hear all of his dimensions -- his influence, his force, his versatility -- and realize that he is every bit the titan that B.B. and Albert are. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine