Tuesday, 14 September 2021

One More Chance

Two parts blues, two parts soul, and a splash of funk. Shaken or stirred, it's a simple recipe that only a surprising few can blend to perfection. Albert Washington was definitely one of those few. Forged from a deep gospel background, Washington's yearning plea was soothing and sincere at times -- reeling and down right infectious at others. Relatively unknown on a national scale unfortunately, the majority of Washington's career was spent playing the local clubs in hometown Cincinnati, Ohio and later on, near his home in Long Island, New York.

One of four children to Jerry and Helen Washington, Albert's love of blues and gospel made itself known at a very early age. Washington remembers wanting to play his uncle's guitar at age five. At seven, he made his own guitar out of a gasoline can using rubber bands as strings. After losing his father at age nine, Washington got a job washing dishes after school to help his mother with the bills. After moving to Newport, Kentucky with his family while in his teens, Washington was encouraged by his mother to continue his gospel singing, but not his blues singing. At 16, he joined the Gospelaires, then recording for Don Robey's Duke and Peacock labels out of Houston. A few years later, he formed his own gospel group, the Washington Singers. In his late teens, Washington would sneak into blues clubs in nearby Cincinnati every chance he had, and there he was first exposed to the music of artists like Sam Cooke, Big Maybelle, Charles Brown, and Amos Milburn. Washington cited B.B. King as most influential on his style of singing and guitar playing, which was heavily sprinkled with his gospel singing roots. Shortly after his mother died, Washington began singing blues as often as he could at the Vet's Inn in Cincinnati, where he worked with a house band for 16 years. In 1962, he recorded his first single for the Finch label in Cincinnati, and it was later released on the VLM and Bluestown labels. His 1964 single for the VLM label, including a song he wrote called "Haven't Got A Friend", got him noticed in England, and this in turn led to a deal with Harry Carlson's Cincinnati-based Fraternity Records in 1966. Lonnie Mack joined Washington on several singles for Fraternity recorded in 1969. In 1970, he recorded two singles for the Jewel label before finally releasing his first LP for the Detroit-based Eastbound Records in 1973. The album was recorded at Steve Cropper's TMI Studio in Memphis Tennessee, backed by the red hot Memphis Horns, and finds Washington in wonderful form. Sadly, because of complications from diabetes, Washington lost his sight, and his career fell into a trough from the mid-'70s to the early '90s. But despite the crippling effects of diabetes and the tragedies that befell him over the course of his life, Washington remained an upbeat, positive figure. In January, 1993, Long Island-based Iris Records released his first recording in nearly two decades, Step It Up And Go. He began touring regionally again, and frequented clubs in Long Island. His 1994 follow-up album, A Brighter Day, was named one of the top three blues recordings of 1994 by France's Academie Du Jazz. Washington continued to perform in blues clubs around Long Island prior to dying of complications from diabetes on October 23, 1998. ~ (mostly c/o) Richard Skelly [allmusic]

One More Chance collects the complete secular works of Albert Washington from 1963 to 1975. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.

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