A King's Ransom



Little Freddie King and drummer/manager Wade Wright are concerned. King, originally from McComb, Miss., has just finished an album for Fat Possum Records due out in June, but aware of the way R.L. Burnside's music was remixed, they're concerned what's going to happen to King's songs.

"We had 18 songs to choose from," Wright explains. "They (Fat Possum Records) picked 11 they liked that were more upbeat, y'know? They tune into the younger audience."

They're worried that the feeling in King's country blues might be lost in the production. "There's only one change in the music; they have other sounds going through their computers. It's what they call sending it through loops and it makes it sound all the way different." The songs were recorded "natural," as King puts it, but "when they finish it up, they send it through those machines to change the sound of the music and add more sounds to it."

The as-yet untitled album only contains one remixed track so far, "Chicken Dance," King's "Bad Chicken" with a more dub-wise production. Remixing his work isn't that improbable, either. Like so much techno, "Walkin' With Freddie" and "Crackhead Joe" are riffs that groove on and on with choruses signaled only by the words, not by melodic or riff changes.

Their anxiety is understandable because King -- now in his late 60s/early 70s (depending on who you ask) -- has endured shady dealings much of his career. "I never got a royalty check until a year ago," he recalls, "and it was from France!" At a recent Savannah, Ga., blues festival, King and his band were put up at the governor's mansion by festival organizers. "They don't do that for nobody else," King points out. Wright points to a photo of King onstage in a full auditorium. "That's 30,000 people in Switzerland. When we played the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2001, 40,000 were people there."

"In Montreal., when they say a 45-minute set, they mean 45 minutes," Wright explains. "They come and get you and turn off the P.A. This is the only guy who got three encores." King, obviously pleased, says, "Sure did. They let us play three more songs. That's everywhere we play. Here, wherever we go, they never want us to quit, and that makes me feel real good. We know that we're doing excellent."

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