Sunday, May 17, 2015

Great guitar solos, #8: Freddie King's "San-Ho-Zay"

Photo courtesy of Stanley Livingston
Freddie King is the least known of the three major blues guitarists with the King surname, but while B.B. and Albert King gained more notoriety, Freddie was potent in his own rite. 

Like many a great blues player, King hailed from Texas, where he learned an old school acoustic fingerpicking style which he later adapted to the electric guitar. Though he sang, King made his mark with instrumentals, particularly "Hide Away," a #5 Billboard R & B hit later interpreted by many a bluesman, including Stevie Ray Vaughan and a young and hungry Eric Clapton.

One of King's other biggest releases was "San-Ho-Zay," presented below in a 1966 performance on "The Beat." There's much to like visually in the period details of this video (the go-go dancers, the raised platforms, the pastel colors of the studio, the crisply-dressed uptown band) and King's oh-so-pretty tomato red Gibson. Musically, King typified a less-is-more lead guitar style which was the norm before Jimi Hendrix and the Yardbirds alums sexed things up with volume, effects pedals, and advanced technique.

King doesn't waste a note in this compact piece. There's no showing off or reckless abandon, just spicy nuts-and-bolts playing: tasteful bends, tight vibratos, barbed stops and starts. And he does it with no gimmicks, nothing but a clean Gibson tone. Much as I love the dynamism of King's descendants, sometimes there's no substitute for pure blues feeling.    

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Other Truth and Beauty guitar hero essays:

         Click here for "The Second Coming:  Stevie Ray Vaughan," 
a first-hand account of Vaughan's final concert

here for "The heaviest New Year's Eve guitar jam ever: Hendrix
does 'Machine Gun'"
  here for "Link Wray's 'Rumble'"   
here for "Great Guitar Solos, #1:  Eddie Hazel (Funkadelic)"

here for "Great Guitar Solos, #2:  Frank Zappa"

here for "Great Guitar Solos, #3:  Hiram Bullock" 

here for "Great Guitar Solos, #5:  Alvin Lee"

 here for "Great Guitar Solos, #6: Neil Young's 'Hey Hey, My My'"

and here for "Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar - The Six-String Wizardry of Frank Zappa, Part II"

1 comment:

  1. Smokin' is right. Just righteous straightahead blues with no gaudy gimmicks because King is so DAMN GOOD he doesn't need them. Showboaters need not apply. I loved this, Dan. Thank you!