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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Original 'Kingpin' of Southern Soul
Six months after this recording was made, `King' Curtis Ousley would be stabbed to death while standing in front of his New York City apartment building. This tragic violence brought a premature close to a career that had recently projected to new heights, and seemed poised to go just about anywhere. Active since the early fifties, King Curtis moved easily from jazz to...
Published on July 28, 2006 by Thomas D. Ryan

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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars godfather of muzak?
How this album made the greatest live album list is beyond me. Replacing lyrics with sax solos in songs is hard to pull off, even for a master such as King Curtis. Versions of Whiter Shade of Pale, and Whole Lotta Love are truly awful and cheesy. The majority of the album ain't much better, with Memphis Soul Stew, I Stand Accused, and Soul Serenade being the exceptions...
Published on December 8, 2009 by J. Macrae


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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Original 'Kingpin' of Southern Soul, July 28, 2006
This review is from: Live At Fillmore West (Audio CD)
Six months after this recording was made, `King' Curtis Ousley would be stabbed to death while standing in front of his New York City apartment building. This tragic violence brought a premature close to a career that had recently projected to new heights, and seemed poised to go just about anywhere. Active since the early fifties, King Curtis moved easily from jazz to soul to rock and roll. To put things in perspective, you should know that when Sam Cooke sings "Play that one called `Soul Twist'" in "Having a Party," he's referring to a King Curtis tune. The man was ubiquitous, but usually stayed behind the scenes, serving as a bandleader, producer or back-up musician for an endless number of performers, including the Coasters, the Isley Brothers, Bobby Darin and John Lennon. In 1971, he was acting as bandleader for Aretha Franklin (see my review for "Aretha Franklin Live at the Fillmore West") and racking up a few hits of his own. "King Curtis Live at the Fillmore West" culls the highlights from his own sets at this venue, and it also marks a high point of his recording career.

The band alone justifies the price of admission. Billy Preston plays keyboards and Cornell Dupree plays guitar, while Jerry Jemmott and Bernard Purdie make up the rhythm section. Fattening out the rich sound of Curtis' own baritone saxophone are the Memphis Horns, making this ensemble a dream team of funky soul-music brethren. Even when the material is lacking, the band manages to transcend mundanity with spirited interpretations. Would you expect "Ode to Billie Joe" to have a fatback groove? I wouldn't have. Could you even imagine a baritone sax handling Robert Plant's vocal line for "Whole Lotta Love"? I didn't think so. This version in particular brings the song full circle, taking it closer to its roots as a Willie Dixon composition. The best tune here, though, is "Memphis Soul Stew," a gorgeous eight-minute rhythmic workout that virtually defines the funky/loose and yet stop-on-a-dime/tight spirit of contemporary soul music. It is a virtual primer in everything anyone would need to know about cooking up a hot rhythm and letting it simmer until it boils over with intense energy. Throw in a bonus track that features Billy Preston molding "My Sweet Lord" into something uniquely his own, and you will have to wonder how on Earth anybody could claim George Harrison's composition as a derivative of "He's So Fine."

King Curtis had a lengthy career, but it still ended much too soon. Catch this set and you're also bound to wonder how soul music would have progressed had we not lost such a talented force at the peak of his powers. A- Tom Ryan
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His Most Inspired Recording, January 19, 2001
By 
"marleyscott" (Long Island, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Live at Fillmore West (Audio CD)
King Curtis and The King-Pins came into the famed Filmore West in 1968 to provide backup for Aretha Franklin. At this time in his career, he was branching out as a producer and music arranger for Freddie King, Aretha and others. It was a last minute cancelation that brought Curtis and his formitable band onto the concert stage for this legendary performance. As Otis Redding had done in Monterey, Curtis seduced the largely white hippie audience and won them over.
The set largely consists of soul staples the band had honed and perfected while on the chitlin circuit; Memphis Soul Stew, Soul Serenade, Freddie King's I Stand Accused and Stevie Wonder's big hit Signed Sealed & Delivered I'm Yours. Curtis rounds it out with with contemporary top 40 material such as Procol Harum's Whiter Shade Of Pale, Jeffery Jeff Walker's Mr. Bojangles and Led Zeplin's Whole Lot Of Love. Check out the audience reaction. These kids couldn't get enough of the King.
Unfortunately, this was one of the last recorded appearences by this great alto player with the soulful wail and impecable phrasing. Several months later, he was stabed outside his New York City apartment house. There are several other King Curtis reissues on the market including the long out of print "Live At Small's Paradise". Although throughout his career Curtis turned in consistantly excellent material, this is without a doubt, his most inspired live recording.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets, July 9, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Live at Fillmore West (Audio CD)
This record demonstrates as well as any what happens when you put great, mature, seasoned veteran musicians together on a stage. This may have been King's band and he was certainly the 'icing on the cake' but without Jerry Jemmott, Cornell Dupree, Billy Preston and Bernard Purdie it would never have been the same. As a bass player I stand in awe of Jerry's playing. To hear him play with Bernard Purdie and Cornell Dupree and hear how they push the groove like perhaps no other rhythm section before or since is simply breath taking. I dare some one to listen to 'Memphis Soul Stew' and not get chills when King brings the whole band to a searing boil.
I believe this record should be in everybody's collection. No exception. Why? Because this is as good as it gets.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What live music used to sound like, September 22, 2007
This review is from: Live At Fillmore West (Audio CD)
The late 60s and early 70s gave us many music acts "Live at the Fillmore," a sign that the act had really arrived. By today's standards, the recordings were raw and, at their best, authentic to the sound and feel of the time.

King Curtis "Live at the Fillmore" is a satisfying mix of instrumental soul, R&B that combines the smooth melody of cuts like "A Lighter Shade of Pale" with some funky R&B (Memphis Soul Stew and others). While not every cut works (Led Zeppelin's A whole Loota Love), the CD shows a consistet level of musicianship and is a great sample of the musical experiments and fusion of the era.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic......Pure aural pleasure!, March 4, 2007
By 
C.J. (Norman, OK USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Live At Fillmore West (Audio CD)
From the moment I put on this recording, I was captivated. Six minutes into 'Memphis Soul Stew' listners are treated to an explosion of sound that wraps up in it the genres of soul, rock, jazz, and most likely some unearthly sound millions of light years away. From beginning to end, King Curtis and the incredible musicians brought together on this recording groove and interact in a manner that few bands achieve. If you own three live recordings in your life, this should be .333333.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Someone's Got to Die!, May 20, 2009
This review is from: Live At Fillmore West (Audio CD)
Am I the only one that noticed the sacrilege on this "new" version of the classic live album? The original, which was stolen from me, had only ONE guitar track on the whole album. That was courtesy of the legendary Cornell Dupree. I bought this crappy version and was overcome with nausea, disgust, and rage. Some nameless, talentless HACK had the unmitigated NERVE to record an extra guitar track. To make matters worse, the track is recorded over the top of Cornell's and even some of Curtis's solos! Namely Cornell's amazing solo on Them Changes. This person needs to be found, drawn and quartered. Seriously. How unforgivably disrespectful can you get, and still be allowed to live?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, after 26 years!!, July 15, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Live at Fillmore West (Audio CD)
My father bought me this album as an Eight-track tape back in 1976 (I played tenor sax) and I fell in love with it. I've looked for the album many times over the years but couldn't find it. Finally I've got it!! This live cut is gutsy, tight, driving, and goosebump-inducing. I disagree with the reviews that take a backhanded swipe at "Whole Lotta Love"...listen to it! The group does a great job with it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One million Stars, May 13, 2004
By 
. (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Live at Fillmore West (Audio CD)
'Memphis Soul Stew', live..man. When this came out, every rythm section tried copping these riffs, and they're -still- trying. This opening track is quite likely the greatest live instrumental recording ever.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Live the King, June 1, 2011
By 
Bold As Love "Axis" (Gravel Switch, KY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Live At Fillmore West (Audio CD)
Amongst musicians this sax man is legendary. The Beatles had him open for them at Shea Stadium. John Lennon had him play on the Imagine sessions. He played jazz, soul, ballads, funk, rock and roll, and could conduct, arrange, produce, write, and play classics like other lesser talents breathed air. This man and this all-star band were created to back Aretha Franklin's live recording in front of a Fillmore West audience. The result being nothing less than a modern music classic. So how do you top that? In King Curtis's case he made it seem easy, just record yourself and the all-star back-up band with special guest Billy Preston as the opening act. The resultant recordings produced this artifact of the hardest working genius at the top of his game in a live setting. A triumph then, a revelation always, and a must-have for anyone who loves live recordings and/or great music.

The original issue recording (I have vinyl and original CD issues) are sufficient, but the Deluxe version gives a peek at other options for a man and a band that existed for one reason only, to anchor Ms. Franklin's sound live, yet they produced a never-to-be-duplicated set of recordings capturing Aretha, King Curtis, and this specialty version of the King Pins as headliner, opening act, and back-up band. Nobody does it better and Curtis Ousley did it best right here.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a band!, February 14, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Live At Fillmore West (Audio CD)
I love the Fillmore releases of the late 60s and early 70s, great music caught before the corporate clampdown on the biz. Live music has the excitement of being there up in the music when it clicks and flies and when it spins its wheels. With this set by King Curtis there's no spinning wheels, this is one great band. They turn Whiter Shade of Pale into a beautiful soul workout and you realize the words (which are pretty cool anyway) don't matter that much. Maybe that's one of the things about this set - words don't matter that much, just go with these guys and you'll feel. I also picked this up because of Duane Allman's touching elegy to King Curtis and his description of Curtis' funeral in a live Allman's recording of You Don't Love Me. I wanted to hear what Duane Allman had heard to know why he wanted to pay such beautiful, spontaneous tribute to King Curtis. Now I know, I know. For some reason I'd somehow come to think of King Curtis as a toss off. I couldn't have been more wrong. Tight, contained, always putting the song first, this band plays as one - given all the great session bands of the time, this group is right there at the top. As Duane Allman says, "it's just the emotional stature of the man." Hear it here.
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Live At Fillmore West
Live At Fillmore West by King Curtis (Audio CD - 2012)
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