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Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: B.B. King

B.B. King

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Album Review

Issued as part of a series in conjunction with the major television documentary series The Blues, this is a hop-skip-jump 12-song compilation of tracks spanning nearly half a century, from the early '50s to the late '90s. For a man whose prolific career has actually been the subject of more than one box set, it's a rather skimpy overview. Still, the kind of listeners who buy this sort of thing aren't looking for box sets, but for a sampler or introductory portal. What's here is certainly worthy, including his 1950s hits "Three O'Clock Blues" and "Every Day (I Have the Blues)"; a few of his more fully produced, brassy 1960s ABC sides; the 1969 breakthrough pop hit "The Thrill Is Gone"; and just three post-1976 tracks, one of which ("Playin' With My Friends") features Robert Cray as co-lead vocalist and guitarist. "Sweet Sixteen," "Sweet Little Angel," and "Rock Me Baby" are just a few of the substantial hits conspicuous by their absence. There's something to be said for a single-disc King anthology that cross-licenses from throughout his career, but the best compilations focusing on specific eras of his work give a much better idea of his scope and depth.

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,...
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