Ice Pickin’

Albert Collins

Alligator, 1978

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


By the time he cut Ice Pickin’, his first effort for Alligator Records, Albert Collins was already a legend in the world of blues music. The “Master Of The Telecaster” was famous for his live performances, and while his mainstream releases didn’t experience the kind of success he had hoped for, they still helped to cement his legacy.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

You would think, then, that Ice Pickin’ would be the kind of album that captures that brilliance perfectly. It definitely shows off his skills as a guitarist and a bandleader, that can’t be denied. But the one thing it doesn’t really do is get me hooked into the album as a whole.

Collins’s playfulness with his lyrics, be they sung or spoken, is evident on tracks like “Master Charge” and “Conversation With Collins,” the latter occasionally reminding me a bit of B.B. King with some of the guitar licks that Collins plays as he refers to listening to something on the radio at 2 a.m. As a guitarist, Collins definitely shows he is at the top of his game; the instrumental tracks “Ice Pick” and “Avalanche” (the former occasionally sounding similar to the style of Lonnie Mack) hammer that point home clearly.

Yet, despite repeated listenings to this disc over a two-day period, I found my attention span kept fading out at times. It’s not that Collins and his backing band (including saxophonist A.C. Reed) are bad. It’s just that the songs don’t have the same levels of excitement and engagement as one might have expected. Are songs like “Too Tired,” “When The Welfare Turns Its Back On You” or “Cold, Cold Feeling” bad? Absolutely not. But they seem to be lacking something that really hooks the listener and makes them want to hang on to each and every note being played.

Ice Pickin’ was the album that clearly cemented Collins’s legend as a superstar of the blues world. Is it the best album to represent his work? Well, it was for 1978… and while it’s still a good album, one would argue that he would go on to bigger and better work. But that’s another review for another day.

Rating: B-

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