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Tinsley Ellis: Kingpin

Veteran blues rocker Tinsley Ellis continues to tip his hat to Albert King on his sixth solo effort, Kingpin (Capricorn 2021; 46:23). A ferocious note-squeezer from Atlanta, Ellis had already turned out a handful of solid CDs for Alligator before signing on with Capricorn. This Capricorn debut carries the stylish and modern production values of David Z (producer of Prince, Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd). Consequently, Kingpin is the guitarist’s most dynamic, groove-oriented album to date. High points include an earthy reading of Albert King’s “Heartfixin’ Business” and a surprisingly fresh updating of the Gladys Knight & The Pips soul classic “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination.” Crunching originals like “I Gotta Moan,” “I’ll Be Lovin’ You” and “Dying to Do Wrong” will play to the rock crowd, while blues fans will prefer his faithful rendition of B.B. King’s jump blues “Days of Old” and the stark, Chicago-styled slow blues number “Can’t Play That Way.” But on both sides of the fence, Tinsley’s playing is passionate and fiery.

Originally Published