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May 30, 1980 - Image 9

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1980-05-30

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, May 30, 1980-Page 9
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By MARK COLEMAN
Why do so many people think that the
blues are a bore? As one dedicated
punk rocker I know ironically put it,
"all that stuff sounds the same." Well,
the blues is a tightly structured idiom,
more rigid than its idealistic offshoots
(rock and soul). In the wrong hands it
can become dull, an endless stream of
variations on a single chord
progression, a torrent of meaningless
solos on a twelve bar theme. But try
telling anyone who saw Albert Collins
at Rick's Wednesday night that the
blues are boring and they'll laugh in
your face.
This Texas born guitarist is probably
the most distinctive blues stylist to
emerge in the last ten years. Calling

himself the originator of the "Cool
Sound", Collins is one of a number of ar-
tists breathing new life into an oft-
ignored musical tradition. As soon as
Collins joins the Ice Pickers on stage,
the origin of their label becomes easy to
understand; the combination of Collins'
terse intensity and the five-piece band's
punchy, soulfull accompaniment packs
all the exhilarating impact of a nude
romp in the snow.
TUNING HIS weatherbeaten
Telecaster to an open D-minor chord,
Collins finger-picks and snaps the
strings against the fretboard to create
his trademark sound: A shattering
metallic tone that can blare out a
doomsday warningo nr haunntinL

caress a lost love. Collins assumes a
casual, conversational tone in his
vocals that complements both his
guitar style and the down-to-earth sub-
ject matter of songs like "Master
Charge" or "When the Welfare Turns it
Back on You".
As if his unique guitar delivery
wasn't enough of an attention grabber,
Albert Collins puts on a stage show
unequalled by any blues performer. No
flashy displays of chops or stagey
theatrics here, just a musician who ob-
viously enjoys what he's doing and is
willing to let the audience in on a good
time. After enthralling the crowd with
an apocalyptic slow blues tune, ("Cold,
Cold Feeling"), Collins tossed off an
improvised solo segment, playing off
the crowd reaction, gradually building
up steam and then launching full force
into his funky signature shuffle "Ice
Pick". After slowing things down
again, Albert and the Ice Pickers
nearly knocked the audience out of
their seats with a blaring crescendo,
then sliding smoothly into a half tempo
scorcher. With the aid of an extremely
long chord, Collins got off the stage and
proceeded to roam the nightclub area
sitting down at tables, sipping drinks
handed to him-while still continuing a
particularly blistering solo with the
drunken encouragement of the crowd.
Albert Collins has the conviction and
insight to unleash the unlimited
emotional power of the blues. He can
take an overworked cliche like
"Caledonia" and hand it back to the
audience like a cold slap in the,
face-which may be just what we need.

Daily Photo by DAVID HARRIS -
Albert Collins tEODCAC

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