Albert Cummings – Live at the ’62 Center
Albert Cummings’ Live at the ’62 Center is a twelve song concert album that depicts Cummings’ guitar genius in the best possible way. His tendency is to rely on barnstorming blues rockers to get the set over with his audience, but Cummings never neglects to mix things up with a variety of approaches that widen the album’s diversity. He throws himself into every tune with unfettered abandon and never cheats his hometown audience; the crowd in Williamstown, Massachusetts greets each tune with a rising level of appreciation for what his efforts. It’s an exhausting twelve song ride but, by the time you reach the finish line, you realize Albert Cummings has offered a powerful musical performance equal to any genre. If someone tells you blues music is dead except a few select performers, Albert Cummings’ Live at the ’62 Center is a stern rebuke.
“500 Miles” means business from the outset. The majority of Cummings’ blues rockers have a straight forward thrust that sounds more energetic than its mid-tempo pace might seem. A lot of that energy definitely comes from his six string playing, but Cummings’ vocals put a lot of the fire into these performances as well. “Finally in Love” is a little bit of a jokey tune, but it doesn’t lay on lame humor instead opting for lightly played sarcasm. He does an excellent job of communicating his personality through the lyrics and the guitar playing on this track is one of the most effective displays on “Finally in Love”. “No Doubt” has some of that same smirking humor, but there’s definitely more venom and bite in the lyrical and musical performance alike. Cummings embraces a lot of standard blues turns, both musical and lyrical, but they come off as fresh in his hands rather than some tired regurgitation of his betters. There’s some continuing strands of humor heard in “I’ve Got Feelings Too”, but the marquee element of the tune is Cummings’ hard-bitten guitar work that takes on an added propulsive quality in this song. The audience shows their appreciation.
“Sweet Love” is more of an outright pastiche than other tunes on Live at the ’62 Center, but even his rare forays in this direction are nonetheless effective. Cummings throws himself into a tune like this with no less the same level of enthusiasm as other tracks and plays with some great fire as usual. “It Hurts Me Too” is one of the album’s few covers and works especially well thanks to blending a traditional approach to the tune with a revamped bounce that helps Cummings own a piece of this tune that might otherwise be unavailable to him. The peak of the band’s swing comes with the track “Movin’ On” and the groove they hit on is one of the most effective moments during this performance. It all ends with a lengthy and torrid take on Cummings’ original “Glass House” linked up with a convincing, respectful take on “Midnight Rider”. Cummings doesn’t sound out of place tackling this venerable tune and it locks up seamlessly with his aforementioned original. Live at the ’62 Center wins with every song and there’s something here for everyone to like.