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Greatest Hits

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Album Review

There's more than one B.B. King best-of out on the racks, but this 1998 issue, Greatest Hits [MCA], updates his chart achievements and puts them together in a modern, 16-track package for both the novice and casual modern blues listener. Kicking off with a pair of tunes from the influential Live at the Regal album ("Sweet Little Angel," "Everyday I Have the Blues"), the set moves through mid- to late-'60s breakthrough hits like "How Blue Can You Get?," "Paying the Cost to Be the Boss," "Why I Sing the Blues," "Don't Answer the Door," and his signature tune, "The Thrill Is Gone." The pop-blues fusions King experimented with in the '70s and '80s show up on "To Know You Is to Love You," "I Like to Live the Love," and "Hummingbird." The modern-day end of things is represented by duets with Robert Cray on "Playin' with My Friends," and rock group U2 on "When Love Comes to Town." Although missing all of his early-'50s hits, this is a good buy for the casual fan coming to his music for the first time, and for longtime aficionados looking for a quick-fix update.

Biography

Born: September 16, 1925 in Indianola, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Universally hailed as the king of the blues, the legendary B.B. King was without a doubt the single most important electric guitarist of the last half of the 20th century. His bent notes and staccato picking style influenced legions of contemporary bluesmen, while his gritty and confident voice — capable of wringing every nuance from any lyric — provided a worthy match for his passionate playing. Between 1951 and 1985, King notched an impressive 74 entries on Billboard's R&B charts,...
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