Home / Music CD & DVD Review: Albert Collins – Live At Montreux, 1992

Music CD & DVD Review: Albert Collins – Live At Montreux, 1992

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There’s a deadly disease that’s recently been released on an unsuspecting public, and everybody’s at risk. Every single person out there is susceptible to MOTT. What’s MOTT, you ask? It’s the Master Of The Telecaster disease. But if you’re one of the lucky people who rushes out and picks up Albert Collins’s Live at Montreux 1992 CD and DVD when they’re released, you’ll be protected.

Either of these contains sufficient Master of the Telecaster vaccine to inoculate you. One treatment, listening or watching, and you’re home free. Both, and you're in Fat City. A treatment of the DVD is longer lasting since it has four cuts that are not available on the CD. But before you start whining, the CD is not even two minutes short of an hour of Grade A Prime Albert Collins serum, which is more than fair in anybody’s book.

Seriously readers, this performance is one of the finest I’ve seen of Collins, and it’s also one of the finest of any blues singer who has graced the stage at Montreux. For those who aren’t familiar, Montreux is one of the finest and most prestigious venues in Europe. When you play Montreux, you’ve arrived. And Collins played there twice. Even the great Slow Hand, Eric Clapton, has not been invited to Montreux more often.

Montreux, in spite of being the most prestigious festival, is a Mecca for music lovers. Montreux is usually the place where everybody comes to be seen, with its grand casino, but not during the annual festival. Oh, sure, the stars will be seen, but even they couldn’t care less whether they’re photographed or recognized, if you can believe that. They’re there to listen and watch and to have a good time.

Collins puts on one hell of a show, coming out doing that signature jitter-jump, a wide grin on his face, the feathers still hanging from his mouth. It's the cat that ate the canary smile; not a professional smile, but a down-to-the-soles-of-my-feet-I’m-so-damned-happy-to-be-here smile. The Master Of The Telecaster loves the blues, and he’s not afraid to demonstrate his happiness to everybody. He doesn’t need to ask if everybody’s having a good time. He knows they are! And they know they are.

The CD is less than two minutes short of a full hour, while the DVD is even longer due to bonus footage from Collins’s 1979 Montreux appearance, tipping the timescale at 102 minutes. And it’s all cookin,’ every last second of it. Plus, Collins has a top-notch group backing him, and he has no qualms with each of them having his turn in the spotlight, too. Every one of them has at least one solo at some point, and every one of them deserves the ovations they receive.

If you like the blues, then you’ve come to the right place with this package. Albert Collins always puts on such a great show, and you could see he was giving his all, joyfully and willingly, from the introduction to the last bow. There isn’t an empty seat in the house; there’s not room for even one more person standing, and every person is applauding when Collins finishes his first number, his signature and one of his best known, “Iceman.”

During his entire performance, I didn’t see Collins look at his guitar once, other than when he was walking through the sardine-can crowd during the performance. His guitar is a part of him, he knows it intimately, and it’s as if he simply commands it to play itself, he makes it look so effortless. The saxman, Jon Smith, does a great solo on “Lights Are On.” Actually, Smith makes the sax wail in two solos, one early in this soul-blues number, then again later, giving us the jazzy treatment. The audience is mesmerized throughout, nobody moving other than a few people snapping photos, until the end of each solo, when they all break loose with enthusiastic applause. This eleven-minute plus cut has the audience giving the group the slow hand, the European equivalent of wild applause, at the end.

Peter Thoennes gives us sizzling guitar, as if he took lessons at the Master’s knee, giving us a performance worthy of a solo show, and who also gets a spirited ovation. Collins isn’t here to hear applause, though, cutting into the audience’s enthusiasm by breaking into the next number with hardly a pause. He’s on a mission.

Thoennes returns in “Too Many Dirty Dishes,” a bottom of the soul blues, for another sizzler. Smith gives us more hot sax, then Collins does his magic, making this one of my favorites. Bobby Alexis on keyboards, Steve Howard on trumpet, bassman Johnny B Gayden, one of the original Icebreakers, and Marty Binden on sticks, all do equally impressive solos and sidework, making this entire concert a winner. There’s especially good photography, remarkable since Montreux unfailingly has some of the best videographers in Europe behind the cameras.

Albert Collins died more than 14 years ago, but you can feel his spirit on this CD and DVD. I sincerely hope that Eagle Rock Entertainment, the publisher of both the CD and DVD, can dig some more Albert Collins out of the vault for us.

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About Lou Novacheck