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Mr. Collins
People ask me all the time, "What kind of music do you like?" The simple answer, "good music," never seems to satisfy. People expect something more specific like "the Fifth movement from Beethoven's Sixth Symphony", "the first side of Supertramp's Breakfast in America", or "Living Colour's Time's Up" (all favorites!). If I had to give a definitive list of all the music I like, it would take far too long. The honest answer is "good music".

However, if I had to pick one and only one artist to take to the deserted island, it would have to be Albert Collins. Nothing puts me in a better mood than listening to Albert Collins, especially when he is backed by The Icebreakers, and ESPECIALLY when Mr. Johnny B. Gayden is on bass.

"But," people tend to say, "all blues sounds alike!" "BAH!" I say. "You haven't listened to enough blues!" I can think of at least half a dozen blues artists including B.B. King, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray, Larry McCray, and Bo Diddley who are as distinctive and unique as any musicians I can think of. At the top of the list is Albert Collins.

I have heard dozens of musicians who sound like B.B. King or Albert King. A generation of blues rockers has grown up emulating Steve Ray. Bo Diddley spawned countless sound-a-likes. But I can think of few musicians who have conjured images of Albert Collins in my head.

Albert's style is unique. His percussive style - hammering the strings with his fingers - and use of alternate tunings on a capo-ed guitar define a style that is unmatched and very difficult to replicate. Combine his biting tone with the originality of The Icebreakers Johnny B. Gayden on bass and drummers Casey Jones and Morris Jennings, and you have some of the most interesting, exciting, and original blues music ever produced.

Today's video features Mr. Collins performing with Maggie Bell and Midnight Flyer at Montreux in July 1981. Alas, it does not feature any of The Icebreakers. But Albert's biting, punchy guitar lines are as brilliant as ever. Don't forget to visit my Music Video page where you can watch this video and lots more in the large video player.

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"It's easy to get next to music theory, especially between your peers and music classes and so forth. You just pay attention. I had a good ear, so I realized that printed music was just about reminding you what to play."

- Quincy Jones

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