Decades ago, Albert White and his Rockers brought their soulful brand of funk to their hometown of Atlanta, playing to wild crowds at the New Palladium on Bankhead Highway and the Sportsman Oasis Ballroom, shows that were serendipitously captured in low-tech– a cassette recorded placed on stage. Somehow, the tapes survived throughout the decades, and now they’ve been polished and prepared to see the light of day thanks to Music Maker Relief Foundation, a non-profit based out of North Carolina that works to “keep our Southern culture vital by directly supporting senior American roots musicians in need, expanding their professional careers, and assisting Next Generation artists in the development of their professional careers.”
Singer and guitar player Albert White learned his trade from his uncle, Piano Red, the R&B hitmaker behind “Doctor Feelgood.” Soon enough, he forged his own path, and has spent the last half century gigging throughout the southeast with his Rockers, playing jukes, clubs, weddings and more. Though White may not yet be a household name, he’s certainly shared the stage with plenty of stars, including Rufus Thomas, Ray Charles and Joe Tex.
White says of his upcoming release, Albert White and the Rockers, slated for a September 23rd release, “people have been waiting 40 years to hear these songs again and relive their younger years. It brought back memories of the social clubs we used to do, this is the only place you can hear these songs the way we were doing them back in the day. Hats off to Wallace Jones for hitting record and keeping us together for so long. A lot of the guys who were around back in the day and many of the musicians in the band have passed on and these recordings bring back memories of the good times we shared. They would have loved to hear these mixes.”
Today, Elmore is exclusively streaming the record, which blends cover tracks from the two Atlanta performances with two tracks from Albert’s 1980s home recordings of the Four Souls. Music Maker’s in-house engineer, Ardie Dean, who produced and remastered the recordings, calls White a “consummate guitarist” and “masterful soul singer,” traits that have no trouble shining through on the lo-fi recording.
In fact, rather that detract from the listening experience, the bootleg quality adds a grittiness to the tracks, transporting you back to those sweaty, rockin’ clubs where Albert reigned, sliding with ease between the upbeat groove of album opener, “Get Up Get Down Get Funky,” to the soulful R&B of “She Used To Be My Girl.” The album hits a high note with White’s blistering take on Leon Russell’s “A Song For You,” a heartfelt torch song that, all these years since its recording, takes on a strangely prescient tone; “I’ve been so many places in my life and times… I’ve acted out my life on stage.”
Look out for Albert White and the Rockers on September 23rd, and follow White and the Music Maker Relief Foundation via their website.