Born Under a Bad Sign

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Born Under a Bad Sign
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 1967 (1967-08)
RecordedStax Studios, Memphis Tennessee
March 1966 – June 1967
GenreElectric blues, soul blues
ProducerJim Stewart
Albert King chronology
The Big Blues
Born Under a Bad Sign
Live Wire/Blues Power
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic5/5 stars[1]

Born Under a Bad Sign is the second studio album by Albert King, released in 1967. The album became "one of the most popular and influential blues albums of the late '60s"[2] and has been acknowledged by the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame, and Rolling Stone magazine.[3]


Born Under a Bad Sign was the first album by Albert King for Stax Records and his second album overall. It is composed of singles released by King recorded between March 3, 1966 and June 9, 1967, with additional studio tracks. Providing accompaniment to Albert King, who sang and played lead guitar, were the Stax in-house recording session band, Booker T. and the MGs, featuring the Memphis Horns.[4][5]

Style and influence[edit]

The release of Born Under a Bad Sign in 1967 "would change the face of American music, modernizing the blues".[6] "'It was the great divide of modern blues, the point at which the music was rescued from slipping into derivative obscurity'".[6] Part of the album's success has been attributed to Booker T. and the MGs who "gave his blues a sleek, soulful sound [which] gave King crossover appeal".[2] Four of the album's songs became modern blues classics: "Born Under a Bad Sign", "Oh Pretty Woman", "The Hunter", and "Crosscut Saw" (although an older song, it was given a new treatment by King). Together with "Personal Manager" and "Laundromat Blues",[7] they "form the very foundation of Albert King's musical identity and legacy".[1] The title track was one of the last songs by Stax to feature the imprint "Produced by Staff"; future songs were later attributed to the writers.[8]

Albert King's guitar work on the album "directly influenced legions of guitar players who studied its every subtlety and nuance"[6] and was "profoundly influential, not just in blues, but in rock & roll".[1] Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan have acknowledged King's influence; indeed, some of their guitar solos are close approximations to those found on Born Under a Bad Sign.[1][2][6]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 1985, Born Under a Bad Sign was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in the "Classics of Blues Recordings" category.[9] It received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999[10] and in 2003, the album was ranked number 499 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[11] The album ranked at #491 on a revised list in 2012. The 2002 reissue of the album by Stax Records received a 2003 Blues Music Award for "Historical Blues Album of the Year".[12]

Track listing[edit]

Original album[edit]

Side 1
1."Born Under a Bad Sign"William Bell, Booker T. Jones2:47
2."Crosscut Saw"R.G. Ford[13]2:35
3."Kansas City"Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller2:33
4."Oh, Pretty Woman"A.C. Williams2:48
5."Down Don't Bother Me"Albert King2:10
6."The Hunter"Booker T. Jones, Carl Wells, Steve Cropper, Donald Dunn, Al Jackson, Jr.2:45
Side 2
1."I Almost Lost My Mind"Ivory Joe Hunter3:30
2."Personal Manager"Albert King, David Porter4:31
3."Laundromat Blues"Sandy Jones3:21
4."As the Years Go Passing By"Deadric Malone3:48
5."The Very Thought of You"Ray Noble3:46

Album reissues[edit]

In 1998, Sundazed Records reissued the album with two additional bonus tracks, both written by Albert King. Those tracks are the rare mono single B-sides "Funk-Shun" and "Overall Junction," which originally appeared on the Stax singles "Laundromat Blues" and "Oh, Pretty Woman," respectively. This expanded edition of the album—also featuring original liner notes by Deanie Parker and a new annotation by music critic Bill Dahl—was never released on compact disc and is available on vinyl record only.


A remastering of the album was released in 2013. Neil Kelly of PopMatters wrote, "Music collectors of all ages who appreciate timeless music of all varieties more than likely have a copy of Born Under a Bad Sign in their collection. The inclusion of bonus material worthy of release further compels the re-purchase, if previously owned. In other words, it’s a must-have for all serious music appreciators, pop-culture historians, and British Invasion fans who never followed the genealogical roots of their rock heroes (and those that did, too)."[14]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Born Under a Bad Sign – Review". allmusic. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas; Erlewine, Daniel. "Albert King – Biography". allmusic. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  3. ^ Bowman, Rob (1997). Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records. New York, NY: Schirmer Trade. ISBN 978-0-8256-7284-2. OCLC 36824884.
  4. ^ Bowman 1997, p. 126-127.
  5. ^ Mojo staff (2007). The Mojo Collection: 4th Edition. Canongate Books. p. 90. ISBN 9781847676436.
  6. ^ a b c d McDevitt, Sean (October 12, 2007). "Albert King: Born Under a Bad Sign Turns 40". Gibson. Archived from the original on August 29, 2010. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  7. ^ Unrelated to the 1953 Five Royales song of the same name.
  8. ^ Bowman 1997, p. 127.
  9. ^ "Blues Hall of Fame – 1985 Inductees". The Blues Foundation. 1985. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  10. ^ "Grammy Hall of Fame Awards". The Recording Academy. 1999. Archived from the original on July 7, 2015. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  11. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2010. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  12. ^ "Blues Music Awards – 24th W.C. Handy Blues Awards". The Blues Foundation. 2003. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  13. ^ R.G. Ford was a Memphis attorney; see "Crosscut Saw" article.
  14. ^ Kelly, Neil (2013-06-07). "Albert King: Born Under a Bad Sign (remastered)". PopMatters.