While The Beatles and Velvet Underground were creating new sounds to ease out of the summers of love, King was quick on his feet to be an idolization of string movements. Recruiting Willie James Exon on guitar, there was also James Washington on organ and Roosevelt Pointer on bass. The percussions give Son Seals a standing ovation of being the human metronome that so effortlessly flows into King’s slick style.
The opening track “Watermelon Man” is not a Herbie Hancock rendition, but instead is a swinging and nearly breakneck jam through this blitzing instrumental that uniquely picks solo standouts for each member. The guitars here are highlighted for their sporadic strumming and picking that shines through overtones. The organ follows suit as this 60’s uplift where James Brown and The Famous Flames would be proud.
While entirely instrumental excluding a short introduction that describes, “Permanent member of the Fillmore family, a great guitarist, this is Mr. Albert King,” as the crowd erupts into cheers. Those cheers transition into the track “Blues Power” where King essentially makes passionate love to the guitar here. Live Wire/Blues Power touches a myriad of bases, but the 10-minute track “Blues Power” gives way to something truly magical.
Involving crowd participation where King speaks to the crowd, more in a matter-of-fact terminology where everyone can relate to “The Blues, or the Reds, or the Pinks.” Giving around the three-minute mark, a decadent display of not only stringed prowess but a marksman level of craft that comes to the performance. King becomes this artisan that transposes the guitar and illustrates a serious technicality through emotion and raw talent.
Even on later tracks that are much shorter in comparison, “Please Love Me” gives the swing eighth notes a run on the percussion and has King shrieking through the guitar. It stays to be a polar opposite of the sluggish approaches of previous tracks and instead trades the 1963 Lincoln Continental for something more related to the ‘61 Shelby Cobra. Both beauties on display, but for entirely different reasons.
But that becomes the mantra for Live Wire/Blues Power, each piece has moments of extreme valleys and then mountainous highs. King can transition perfectly between the two and keep a crowd entertained by choosing excellent musicians to back him up even when he seems to be down and out underneath the blue wave.