Category: BB King

BB King – King of the Blues

ARTIST: BB King                                       MI0003917886

TITLE:  King of the Blues

YEAR RELEASED: 1960

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Partin’ Time (#8 R&B), Got a Right to Love My Baby (#8 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I’m King, Good Man Gone Bad

LINEUP: BB King and session players

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: More sides from what seemed like an inexhaustible supply of blues songs from BB King.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This is more ‘big band’ type blues tracks from King, as he’s playing and singing before a combo with horns. This time, though, King’s songs and his guitar playing carries the band, and it doesn’t sound as dated as before.

There were two top 10 R&B tracks, and other sides that demonstrate the versatility and virtuosity of King during this period. There are a couple of skippable songs, but most are right in the blues pocket.

BB King’s deep cuts were just as fine as some of his hits (“I’m the King” for one), and each of these early albums have some gems that should be heard more often.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: These sessions were recorded over time in the 1958-60 era.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B+: A good blues album from a great bluesman.

BB King – The Great BB King

ARTIST: BB King                  MI0000496046

TITLE:  The Great BB King

YEAR RELEASED: 1960

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Sweet Sixteen (#2 R&B), Sneaking Around (#14 R&B), Ten Long Years (#9 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Whole Lotta Love

LINEUP: BB King and his sidemen and orchestra.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A record company production of various singles, B-sides and tracks recorded over a three or so year period of time. Don’t let that fool ya.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It’s not as if BB King came into the studio with cutting albums on his mind. He recorded sides, tracks, masters, whatever you wanna call ‘em, and poured what he had in every take. Some were hits, and when there was a good quantity around his record company packaged a few together and called it an album.

Sometimes the records are minor, and sometimes, like this one, are packed with great tracks. Starting off with “Sweet Sixteen”, a huge R&B hit (and not the Chuck Berry song), these 10 tracks are classic King. There’s a horn section, but it’s not as obtrusive as on some cuts (it’s prominent on “Sneakin’ Around” though, and King’s voice is sweeter than normal.

What does stand out is King’s work with his guitar. On these cuts, his playing shines. There are some interesting twists, like “Someday Somewhere” with vibes being put forward along with guitar and horn section, adding a kind of spooky touch.

King’s good nature also shines. You can tell he’s having a great time in the studio with his band, his songs and his guitar.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There was an album of spirituals that I skipped.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a few unreleased cuts and a couple of minor singles..

GRADE: A-: Yeah, the blues. One of the BB King records that casual fans should have.

 

BB King – BB King Wails

ARTIST: BB King         MI0003917817

TITLE:  BB King Wails

YEAR RELEASED: 1959

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES:  The Woman I Love (#94, #31 R&B) – in 1968!

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None

LINEUP: BB King and session musicians

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A relatively short and relatively obscure set from King still showcases his guitar and his exuberance.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Even a minor album such as this can give you some great moments. King’s guitar, and his voice, and his joy are all here even if the songs aren’t the best of his career.

The arrangements, using big band style horn charts, also seems a bit dated. The players (whoever they are) and arrangements are pretty decent. The star, of course, is King, and his guitar shines through no matter what.

This is a minor work, but King fans and blues fans should dig it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: I have seen three different release dates for the original release, so I’m splitting the difference and keeping it at 1959. This album was re-released twice with different titles in the 60’s and 70’s.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B-: Blues fans will like it.

 

BB King – The Blues

ARTIST: BB KingMI0000510140

TITLE:  The Blues

YEAR RELEASED: 1958

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: When My Heart Beats Like a Hammer (#8 R&B), Troubles, Troubles, Troubles (#13 R&B), I Want to Get Married (#14 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Early in the Morning, Why Do Everything Happen to Me

LINEUP: BB King + session guys

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: King’s label collects singles, b-sides and other tracks and puts together a nice collection of horn-driven blues songs.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: B. B. King recorded many sides for the Bahari brothers in the 50’s, who put them out on their various labels. In an effort to extend King’s reach, and get product out on the R&B marketplace, they compiled this album, his second, full of blues songs that are almost all horn-driven.

Two recent hits (“Married” and “Troubles”) were the enticement to the 50’s blues buyer. Yet, the other tracks aren’t filler. They’re just other examples of King as he was perfecting his craft. His writing, singing and playing are worth the money for this.

The horns interfere at times with my enjoyment. I prefer my blues a bit unadorned, although I know that’s was in vogue at the time. (It seems kind of a bridge between big band swing and the blues, I think).

It’s a good album. King is always a joy to listen to because you hear the joy he has in playing and singing the blues.

NOTES & MINUTAE: Crown was the label that put out this collection, which was the budget label for the Bihari brothers. They were more interested in the singles market, but albums were a way to get the back catalog there as well.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION:  I see there’s a version with more cuts. King cut a lot of sides in the 50’s.

GRADE: B+: Not his strongest collection (though it’s a little out of his control) but it’s a good example of the 50’s blues.

 

BB King – Singin’ the Blues

ARTIST: B. B. King
TITLE: Singin’ the Blues
YEAR RELEASED: 1956220px-Singin'_the_blues_small
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Almost every cut was a Top 10 R&B hit, including three number ones (Three O’Clock Blues, Please Love Me, You Upset Me Baby)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Every Day I Have the Blues is on this.
LINEUP: BB King – a bunch of other guys – but it’s BB King.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Record company collects BB King’s mid-50’s singles and other masters. Yeah, it’s good.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The debut album for King collected a whole bunch of his singles. Those early singles are not only touchstones for the blues as a genre, but established King at the forefront of the electric blues movement.

Many of these songs have become blues standards, and you can find a lot of cover versions, especially from UK blues bands in the 60’s and 70’s.

A few songs don’t feature his guitar, or much of it. King is a fine singer, but his guitar is his moneymaker. It’s also an album that’s thrown together – great stuff but there wasn’t much thought about where things went. The first side is much stronger, though side two is no slouch.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Most of these songs were credited to a “Jules Taub” along with King, which was a pseudonym for one of the owners of the record company.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: In Japan and the UK they added some other tracks from this era.

GRADE: A-: Blues hounds need it. We all need lots of it, because it’s good to have the blues.