Back in my college radio days, I picked up the Grammy winning Showdown!, the 1985 album Albert Collins made with Robert Cray and Johnny Copeland. That was my introduction to all three blues guitarists. Had I been more hip to the blues in 1978, I might have picked up Ice Pickin'. It's full of the hard rocking Texas shuffle blues that made Collins a crowd favorite and earned "The Master of the Telecaster" complements from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Albert King and John Lee Hooker.
Like Otis Rush, Collins has always been one of those well-respected bluesmen whose records left agnostics unconvinced. But this is the most exciting blues album of 1978. Collins's guitar is clean, percussive, vehement, breaking into unlikely rivulets on the trademark shuffle climaxes, and while his voice is thin his delivery is savvy and humorous. So are his words--unlike most of his colleagues, he seems to know a lot more about sharing life with another person than "Honey Hush."