It is always hard to give a subjective opinion to classics as there is a chance to oppose the most common and respected points of view. Still, blues is the kind of music that allows making personal statements. The song “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Albert King is the blues classics. It starts with the guitar and ends with all the instruments playing together, which underlines the musician’s piety to his instrument. Guitar goes first, and its role ends with the final chord. This piece of music consists of a male vocal, performed by Albert King himself, two electric guitars, keyboard, bass guitar, drums, and horn section, consisting of tenor saxophone and trumpet. Therefore, the set of performers is quite traditional. Being the big fan of wider perspectives and experiments, King usually combines traditional 12-bar forms (AAB blues pattern) with other approaches. He does not like any rules and tries to avoid the most common song forms, which makes his music especially remarkable. An AAB blues pattern usually involves both melody and lyrics. As a rule, there are three 4-bar sections that communicate with each other in the form of 2 questions that are followed by an answer. Also, two-thirds of each bar are vocal, whereas one-third is an instrumental closing of the line. Here, in “Oh, Pretty Woman” by King, the musician has lived up his need for experiments. Although the instrumental sections of the song are in a 12-bar form, the vocal goes in a different way. King has improved his music by a 16-bar blues variation of the traditional pattern. An additional line appears here, which doubles the first 4-bar section. As a result, there are 8 tonic chords instead of 4 at the beginning of the phrase.
The song’s tempo is medium, as the mood of the song is entertaining and ironic. King is filled with energy and enthusiasm, and his own attitude affects the listeners’ perception a lot. Still, the rhythm is passionate due to the efforts made by the rhythm section, represented by electric bass and keyboard. The musicians provide the pulse so that the rest of the band could follow the mood. As the music becomes slightly faster in the middle of the piece, the dynamic is not homogenous. King allows himself to play faster so that his solo could keep its energy and vigor. The tonal color of horn section makes the whole song more confident. The brassy quality of trumpet and a vibrant saxophone are those things that add piquancy to the music of love. The whole piece would be too straight-forward without them.
Being an accompaniment to the voice, the overall texture of the music changes when the guitar solo starts. At first, the melody stands out, supported by the harmonic accompaniment. Then, the solo begins and the simultaneous improvisations performed by other instruments create a kind of polyphony. The King’s rough vocal and minimalistic playing style constitute the so-called call-and-response cooperation. The dialog that appears due to such an approach, creates an image of the real conversation between the narrator and a woman.
What I especially like about the song “Oh, Pretty Woman” is that it makes my feet moving in a certain rhythm. Also, I can hear exactly what each musician is doing, which is priceless for the true fan of blues. There is no way for Albert King to play too fast or too loud. In addition to the fact that King holds his guitar wrong way around, these aspects lead the listeners to the conclusion that this musician has a perfect sense of balance. While enjoying this piece of music, I have developed an understanding that instruments may have a different, fresh perspective.
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