From the Vault...


King Curtis
"Plays The Great Memphis Hits/King Size Soul"

© Koch Records

Year of Release: 1998

track listing
  • Knock On Wood
  • Good To Me
  • Hold On I'm Comin'
  • When Something Is
    Wrong With
    My Baby
  • Green Onions
  • You Don't Miss
    Your Water
  • Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa
    (Sad Song)
  • In The Midnight Hour
  • The Dog
  • I've Been Loving You
    Too Long
  • Last Night
  • Jum Back
  • Ode To Billie Joe
  • A Whiter Shade Of Pale
  • For What It's Worth
  • To Sir With Love
  • Memphis Soul Stew
  • When A Man
    Loves A Woman
  • I Never Loved A Man
    (The Way
    I Love You)
  • Live For Life
    (Vivre Pour Vivre)
  • C.C. Rider
  • I Was Made To Love Her

  • WSVNRadio Archives
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

    King Curtis related sites:
    King Curtis Website
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    King Curtis
    "Plays The Great Memphis Hits/King Size Soul"

    My knowledge of the late King Crimson arrived when I was very young. There was a Various Artists album of 1950s Rock & Roll songs, that one of my brothers had. Surprisingly, I received this 4-LP set in its original box. The name of the album was The First Authentic 1950's Rock & Roll Collection Lo and behold, I discovered the title again (which I had no clue before this written review), as I was doing some massive googling. The only songs I remembered from this box set were two songs. One by King Curtis, and the other by a young Tony Orlando, before he became famous as Tony Orlando & Dawn. Both of these song titles I could not remember. But I would know the songs if I heard them, especially the one by King Curtis.

    So my google search became "Various Artists"+"Tony Orlando"+"King Curtis". The first link came up as "Dad's albums" and this page had two albums of which both Tony and King appeared on. When the title of Orlando's song was listed as "Ding Dong," I'm thinking, this could be it. So I went to YouTube, typed in the song, took a listen, and yep, it was it. So now I had found the album... Now on to the King Crimson track, which I thought was a one-word title. It was not, it was titled "Memory Serenade." That was the good news. The bad news, is that I could not find this song anywhere, not even on YouTube. Both the Orlando and Curtis songs were recorded in the late 1950s/early 1960s. My guess would be between 1959-1960. As I observed King Curtis' discography, there was one album from 1960, I could not find a track listing for: His 1960 LP, King Soul. My guess is that "Memory Serenade" is probably on this album. Now on to ebay... King Soul was there, however it as a reissue from 1970, of his album The New Scene. I was unable to find a track listing for the King Soul LP. My guess is that "Memory Serenade" maybe on that album. (Note: The album title King Soul is not to be confused with this week's review -- Plays The Great Memphis Hits/King Size Soul).

    And here's the link to that various artists album I found: 1950's Rock & Roll Collection: 72 Original Hits on 4 Boss Albums. (Scroll down to find "1950's Rock N' Roll" to view the album.) The album can also be found here, from

    King Curtis was a highly recommended saxophone player, of which he was a session musician for many artists in the early years of the 1950s Rock & Roll. He worked with The Coasters (playing sax on "Yakety Yak."), hired by, and credited on Buddy Holly's "Reminiscing." He worked with LaVerne Baker and her hit, "I Cried A Tear." He started playing sax at age 12. In his beginnings, he turned down college scholarships, and instead joined Lionel Hampton's band. He recorded for labels Prestige, Enjoy, Captiol, and Atco. By 1965, he moved to Atlantic. He then worked with Aretha Franklin's back band, The Kingpins, of which he recorded albums with the band in the early 1970s. He also worked on John Lennon's Imagine album.

    This week's review reflects on two albums on one CD: His 1967 release, "Plays Great Memphis HIts and King Size Soul from the same year. The latter album was credited as King Curtis and The Kingpins (Aretha Franklin's backing band). A great collection of Memphis tunes, and great Soul classics. Both albums were originally released on the Atco label.

    Plays Great Memphis Hits

    12 tracks from this album, of which 7 I had known: "Knock On Wood" (Eddie Floyd, Eric Clapton, Amii Stewart). "Hold On I'm Comin', "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" (Sam & Dave). "Green Onions" (Booker T. & The MG's). "In The Midnight Hour" (Wilson Pickett). "I've Been Loving You Too Long" (Otis Redding). "Last Night" (Booker T. & The MG's, Blues Brothers). The remaining tracks I did not remember: "Good To Me," "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)" (Otis Redding). "You Don't Miss Your Water" (William Bell). "The Dog," "Jump Back" (Rufus Thomas).

    King Size Soul

    Recorded in Memphis, King Size Soul continues the tradition of well-known 1960s tracks. One of them would be his own, the song "Memphis Soul Stew," of which would be his first R&B Top 10 hit, 5 years prior.

    The only song I did not recognize from this list was "Live For Life (Vivre Pour Vivre)." This track sounds more like what you would hear as "elevator music." It was originally recorded by Jack Jones, as it would become a minor hit. Bobbie Gentry's #1 hit "Ode To Billie Joe," Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade Of Pale," Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth," a way different version compare to the original -- Lulu's "To Sir With Love." Percy Sledge's #1, "When A Man Loves A Woman." Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)" "C.C. Rider" has been covered by many artists -- Whether it be titled as "C.C. Rider" or "See See Rider" -- it was covered by many, starting in 1924. Of the many, many versions, the two that stand out from my recollection -- The Animals (with Eric Burdon) and Elvis Presley. (This song would be the opening song for many of Elvis' concerts.) (Getting back to the King Curtis album...) Lastly, Stevie Wonder's "I Was Made To Love Her"

    Many of the tracks on these two albums are almost basically as their originals. Hardly any vocalization, it's King Curtis' signature saxophone that shines on every track. His love for playing Jazz and R&B was his first, although he would make more money as a an R&B musician. Tragically, his life was cut short, at age 37, when in August, 1971, he was involved in an argument with drug dealers outside his home. He was stabbed to death during the argument. He was not involved with the drug dealers, as he was trying to move an air conditioner into his newly acquired apartment. On the day of his funeral, Atlantic Records closed shop for the day. Rev. Jesse Jackson performed the eulogy. Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder also performed.

    Plays The Great Memphis Hits/King Size Soul is part of King Curtis' incredible work. I am now on the hunt to locate his "Memory Serenade." Hopefully I can find another CD of his music with this particular track on it. Regardless, it's not a bad idea to get more of King Curtis' music. An incredible and memorable saxophone player, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

    At the end of writing this review, I was able to find the ENTIRE box set of The Authentic Rock & Roll Collection on YouTube. UPDATE: In 2017, when I was updating our review archives, the "entire box set" was cut to two parts, consisting of only 9 songs. My guess is that the rest were removed, due to the music copyrights.

    I would like to find "Memory Serenade" as a separate track on a King Curtis CD (original album or compilation). The hunt continues...

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