|"Born Under a Bad Sign"|
|Single by Albert King|
|from the album Born Under a Bad Sign|
|Format||7-inch 45 rpm record|
|Recorded||May 17, 1967|
|Studio||Stax, Memphis, Tennessee|
|Composer(s)||Booker T. Jones|
"Born Under a Bad Sign" is a blues song recorded by American blues singer and guitarist Albert King in 1967. Called "a timeless staple of the blues",the song also had strong crossover appeal to the rock audience with its synchronous bass and guitar lines and topical astrology reference. "Born Under a Bad Sign" became an R&B chart hit for King, and numerous blues and other musicians have made it perhaps the most recorded Albert King song.
The lyrics to "Born Under a Bad Sign" were written by Stax Records rhythm and blues singer William Bell with music by Stax bandleader Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. & the M.G.'s). Bell recalled, "We needed a blues song for Albert King ... I had this idea in the back of my mind that I was gonna do myself. Astrology and all that stuff was pretty big then. I got this idea that [it] might work." The lyrics describe "hard luck and trouble" tempered by "wine and women", with wordplay in the chorus in the turnaround:
Born under a bad sign, been down since I began to crawl
If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all
Similar lyrics are found in Lightnin' Slim's 1954 swamp blues song "Bad Luck Blues":
Lord, if it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all (2×)
You know bad luck has been followin' poor Lightnin', ever since I began to crawl
Now folks I was born in the last month of the year
Jones's arrangement for the song does not follow the typical twelve-bar blues I-IV-V progression. Rather, it is dominated by an R&B-style bass/rhythm guitar line, which Bell claimed that he came up with "while fooling around on the guitar".Albert King provided his signature guitar fills around his vocals and solos during the break and outro, with backing by Booker T. & the M.G.'s and the Memphis Horns.
"Born Under a Bad Sign" became a Billboard R&B chart hit for King, reaching number 49.It was later included on his first album for Stax, also titled Born Under a Bad Sign . The album's cover depicts images of "bad luck signs" or common superstitions, including a black cat, a Friday the 13th calendar page, skull and crossbones, ace of spades, and snake eyes. Subsequently, the song has appeared on numerous King and various artist collections.
Albert King recorded an updated version of "Born Under a Bad Sign" with producer Allen Toussaint for his 1978 New Orleans Heat album. Live versions are included on Wednesday Night in San Francisco , Chicago 1978, In Session with Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Godfather of the Blues: His Last European Tour 1992, and Talkin' Blues (see Albert King discography for album details).
|"Born Under a Bad Sign"|
|Song by Cream|
|from the album Wheels of Fire|
|Released||August 9, 1968|
|Composer(s)||Booker T. Jones|
British rock group Cream recorded "Born Under a Bad Sign" for their third album, Wheels of Fire (1968). The group's record company, which also distributed Stax records, requested that they record it, according to guitarist Eric Clapton. Cream's rendition follows Albert King's, except for bassist and singer Jack Bruce combining two verses into "I've been down ever since I was ten" and an extended guitar solo by Clapton. Musicologist Robert Palmer described Clapton's playing as "practically Albert King parodies".
Cream recorded a live version for the BBC October 24, 1967, which was released on BBC Sessions in 2003. Another live version was recorded during their reunion performances in 2005 and included on Royal Albert Hall London May 2-3-5-6, 2005 .
In 1988, Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign" was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame. Writing for the Foundation, Jim O'Neal called it "one of the signature hits of Albert King that started to win the left-handed string-bender a crossover following in 1967, as he began to break out of the chittlin circuit to invade rock venues like the Fillmore".King's song is also included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of the "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". It has also been recorded by many artists in a variety of styles.
Cream were a British rock band formed in London in 1966. The group consisted of bassist Jack Bruce, guitarist Eric Clapton, and drummer Ginger Baker. Bruce was the primary songwriter and vocalist, although Clapton and Baker also sang and contributed songs. Formed from members of previously successful bands, they are widely regarded as the world's first supergroup. Cream were highly regarded for the instrumental proficiency of each of their members. Tensions between Bruce and Baker led to their decision in May 1968 to break up, though the band were persuaded to make a final album, Goodbye, and to tour, culminating in two final farewell concerts at the Royal Albert Hall on 25 and 26 November 1968 which were filmed by the BBC and shown in theatres, then in 1977 released as a home video, Farewell Concert.
Booker Taliaferro Jones Jr. is an American multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, record producer and arranger, best known as the frontman of the band Booker T. & the M.G.'s. He has also worked in the studios with many well-known artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, earning him a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.
Steven Lee Cropper, sometimes known as "The Colonel", is an American guitarist, songwriter and record producer. He is the guitarist of the Stax Records house band, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, which backed artists such as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas and Johnnie Taylor. He also acted as the producer of many of these records. He was later a member of the Blues Brothers band. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 39th on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
Albert Nelson, known by his stage name Albert King, was an American blues guitarist and singer whose playing influenced many other blues guitarists. He is perhaps best known for the popular and influential album Born Under a Bad Sign (1967) and its title track. He is one of the three performers known as the "Kings of the Blues." King was known for his "deep, dramatic sound that was widely imitated by both blues and rock guitarists."
Donald "Duck" Dunn was an American bass guitarist, session musician, record producer, and songwriter. Dunn was notable for his 1960s recordings with Booker T. & the M.G.'s and as a session bassist for Stax Records. At Stax, Dunn played on thousands of records, including hits by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, William Bell, Eddie Floyd, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, Bill Withers, Elvis Presley and many others. In 1992, he was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Booker T. & the M.G.'s. He is ranked number 40 on Bass Player magazine's list of "The 100 Greatest Bass Players of All Time".
"Sunshine of Your Love" is a 1967 song by the British rock band Cream. With elements of hard rock, psychedelia, and pop, it is one of Cream's best known and most popular songs. Cream bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce based it on a distinctive bass riff he developed after attending a Jimi Hendrix concert. Guitarist Eric Clapton and lyricist Pete Brown later contributed to the song. Recording engineer Tom Dowd suggested the rhythm arrangement in which drummer Ginger Baker plays a distinctive tom-tom drum rhythm, although Baker claimed it was his idea.
Born Under a Bad Sign is the second compilation album by American blues musician Albert King, released in 1967 by Stax Records. It features eleven electric blues songs that were recorded from March 1966 to June 1967, throughout five different sessions. King played with two in-house bands: Booker T. & the M.G.'s and the Memphis Horns.
"Boogie Chillen'" or "Boogie Chillun" is a blues song first recorded by John Lee Hooker in 1948. It is a solo performance featuring Hooker's vocal, electric guitar, and rhythmic foot stomps. The lyrics are partly autobiographical and alternate between spoken and sung verses. The song was his debut record release and in 1949, it became the first "down-home" electric blues song to reach number one in the R&B records chart.
William Bell is an American soul singer and songwriter. As a performer, he is probably best known for his debut single, 1961's "You Don't Miss Your Water"; 1968's top 10 hit in the UK "Private Number", a duet with Judy Clay; and his only US top 40 hit, 1976's "Tryin' to Love Two", which also hit No. 1 on the R&B chart. Upon the death of Otis Redding, Bell released the well-received memorial song "A Tribute to a King".
"Cross Road Blues" is a blues song written and recorded by American blues artist Robert Johnson in 1936. Johnson performed it as a solo piece with his vocal and acoustic slide guitar in the Delta blues-style. The song has become part of the Robert Johnson mythology as referring to the place where he supposedly sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical talents, although the lyrics do not contain any specific references.
"Spoonful" is a blues song written by Willie Dixon and first recorded in 1960 by Howlin' Wolf. Called "a stark and haunting work", it is one of Dixon's best known and most interpreted songs. Etta James and Harvey Fuqua had a pop and R&B record chart hit with their duet cover of "Spoonful" in 1961, and it was popularized in the late 1960s by the British rock group Cream.
"Baby, Please Don't Go" is a traditional blues song that was popularized by Delta blues musician Big Joe Williams in 1935. Many cover versions followed, and the song has been described by French music historian Gérard Herzhaft as "one of the most played, arranged, and rearranged pieces in blues history".
"Call It Stormy Monday " is a song written and recorded by American blues electric guitar pioneer T-Bone Walker. It is a slow twelve-bar blues performed in the West Coast blues-style that features Walker's smooth, plaintive vocal and distinctive guitar work. As well as becoming a record chart hit in 1948, it inspired B.B. King and others to take up the electric guitar. "Stormy Monday" became Walker's best-known and most-recorded song.
"Hide Away" or "Hideaway" is a blues guitar instrumental that has become "a standard for countless blues and rock musicians performing today". First recorded in 1960 by Freddie King, the song became a hit on the record charts. It has been interpreted and recorded by numerous blues and other musicians and has been recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame.
"Good Morning, School Girl" is a blues standard which has been identified as an influential part of the blues canon. Pre-war Chicago blues vocalist and harmonica pioneer John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson first recorded it in 1937. Subsequently, a variety of artists have recorded versions of the song, usually calling it "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl".
"Strange Brew" is a song by the British rock band Cream. First released as a single in June 1967 in the UK and US, it was later added to their second studio album Disraeli Gears. The song features Eric Clapton on lead vocals rather than the usual lead by Jack Bruce. The single peaked at number 17 on the UK Singles Chart in July of that same year. In the UK, it was the last Cream single to be released by Reaction Records.
"Reconsider Baby" is a blues song written and recorded by Lowell Fulson in 1954. Performed in the West Coast blues style, it was Fulson's first record chart hit for Checker Records, a subsidiary of Chess Records. With memorable lyrics and a driving rhythm, "Reconsider Baby" became a blues standard and has been recognized by the Blues Foundation and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.
"Crosscut Saw", or "Cross Cut Saw Blues" as it was first called, is a dirty blues song "that must have belonged to the general repertoire of the Delta blues". The song was first released in 1941 by Mississippi bluesman Tommy McClennan and has since been interpreted by many blues artists. "Crosscut Saw" became an early R&B chart hit for Albert King, "who made it one of the necessary pieces of modern blues".
"The Hunter" is a blues song first recorded by Albert King in 1967 for his landmark album Born Under a Bad Sign. It was written by Stax Records' house band, Booker T. and the MGs, and Carl Wells. Along with "Born Under a Bad Sign" and "Crosscut Saw", "The Hunter" is one of King's best-known and most recorded songs. In 1969, Ike & Tina Turner had top 40 hit with the tune on the R&B singles chart.
King of the Blues Guitar is a compilation album by American blues guitarist and singer Albert King, released by Atlantic Records in 1969. The album contains songs that Stax Records originally released on singles, including five that were also included on King's 1967 compilation, Born Under a Bad Sign. It reached number 194 on the Billboard 200 album chart in 1969.