Albert Collins is a rough-cut gem of a bluesman. Although he’s been playing guitar and singing for nearly 50 years, this native Texan still delivers his songs with raw, unschooled power. His new album, Albert Collins, is a high-energy set of tunes, from the lively bounce of ”Travellin’ South” to the down-and-dirty ”Don’t Mistake Kindness for Weakness.” Each song gets special pizzazz from Collins’ idiosyncratic stop-and-go guitar: laser-sharp notes delivered in widely spaced, jagged bursts. The music isn’t always pretty, and it certainly doesn’t have classic form, but it always has feeling. You never know what Collins’ fingers will produce — it sounds as if he doesn’t either — but his solos never fail to dazzle.
The Complete Imperial Recordings gives us primo Collins from the late ’60s and early ’70s, but with cruder, repeat-the-riff arrangements. Collins wails in his choppy, riveting fashion, and his solos are a feast for blues-guitar fans, but general listeners may be put off by the uninspired backup band. A