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B.B. King: Anthology

B.B. King

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Album Review

MCA's double-disc set Anthology is a bit of a blessing, actually, a welcome entry to B.B. King's extensive catalog, since the last half of his career has not been anthologized often (it was most notably on the box set The King of Blues). Once King's career entered the '70s, he never lost his way, but his recordings became uneven. The situation didn't improve in the '80s or '90s, either — he was always reliable, but the records could either be too slick or uninspired or just solid journeyman efforts. Anthology does a terrific job of consolidating the years between 1963 and 1998, his time at ABC and MCA, respectively. Smartly, the compilers lean heavily on the '60s and early-'70s material, with only a handful of tracks from 1980-1998. There are certainly some terrific tracks missing, but by concentrating on his great recordings of the mid-'60s, plus the work that just followed it, they wind up with not just a very enjoyable compilation, but one that's a testament to B.B.'s talents as a guitarist, vocalist, stylist, and showman. This, in conjunction with a compilation of early Flair recordings and Live at the Regal, provide a better history of the great bluesman's career than his box set.

Biography

Born: 16 September 1925 in Indianola, MS

Genre: Blues

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

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

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