24bit digitally remastered Japanese limited edition issue of the album classic in a deluxe, miniaturized LP sleeve replica of the original vinyl album artwork. According to his biographer, Charles Sawyer, this is King's personal favorite among his recordings. Unlike most of his albums from this period (which are mostly collections of singles), this was recorded in one session and takes him out of his usual big-band setting, using only bass, drums, and piano for accompaniment. The result is a masterpiece: a sparse, uncluttered sound with nothing to mask King's beautiful guitar and voice. "You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now" (its unaccompanied guitar intro is a pure distillation of his style), "Mr. Pawn Broker," "Someday Baby" (R&B Top Ten, 1961), "Walkin' Dr. Bill," and a great version of "Drivin' Wheel" are highlights.
My Kind of Blues was originally released in late 1960 on the budget label Crown. On this session, B.B. King dropped the smooth big band sound of his previous release, B.B. King Wails, to an instrumentally stripped-down unit of bass, drums, piano, and, of course, his beloved guitar Lucille. This date took one day to record and is said to be one of King's personal favorites. Any of B.B. King's early Crown releases are essential, and considering that the 2003 Ace reissues feature previously unissued bonus tracks and midline pricing, these are the ones to grab. According to the liner notes, these bonus tracks are included for being "small combo tracks that continue the traditional blues theme, and allow plenty of space for B.B.'s guitar." Unfortunately, recording dates for these aren't given, but they do include five previously unissued tracks from his Modern sessions, as well as an undubbed version of "Looking the World Over"; an overdubbed version of "Walking Dr. Bill"; and a previously unissued take of "Hold That Train".
** 1991 GRAMMY Awards, Best Traditional Blues Album - or - Best Traditional Blues Recording **
There are both good and bad points to this CD. Of the latter, the Phillip Morris "Super Band" is confined to background work with – other than a few spots for Plas Johnson's tenor – no soloists being heard from. As an ensemble, the all-star orchestra performs well, but is essentially anonymous. Also, despite the backing, B.B. King does not attempt to play jazz, a wasted opportunity. But, switching to the good points, Live at the Apollo is an excellent example of a strong B.B. King live performance. Somehow he always makes his combination of blues and familiar hits sound fresh. With a liberal amount of space set aside for his guitar solos, B.B. is in top form throughout the well-paced set, which is far superior to most of his overproduced studio sessions for MCA. Even if the big band is mostly irrelevant, this CD is recommended for B.B. King's singing and playing.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow
The seventh volume in Ace's ongoing series based on B.B. King's original Crown LPs with 8 bonus tracks.
Originally released as "Blues For Me" in 1961, re-titled "More B.B. King", this disc is augmented by hard to find Kent 45s from the early to mid sixties.
Let the Good Times Roll: The Music of Louis Jordan is the thirty seventh studio album by B. B. King, released in 1999. It is a tribute album to Jazz/Jump Blues saxophonist and singer Louis Jordan, and is made up entirely of covers of songs written or performed by Jordan. As well as King, the album features other famous jazz and blues musicians including Dr. John, Earl Palmer and members of Ray Charles' band.
Recorded in the fall of 2006, shortly after B.B. King's 81st birthday, Live is really an abridged audio complement to a video release, containing 12 of the 19 tracks available on the DVD of the same title. King has made a lot of live albums in his time, but his approach hasn't changed much over the years. In addition to his obvious talents as a guitarist and showman, he has also been fortunate in that his chosen style of music, a version of the blues growing out of the swing-influenced jump blues of the 1940s, has not only remained perennially popular but grown in acceptance. As performed here by the B.B. King Blues Band, it is still essentially the same, a jazzy roadhouse music that leaves plenty of room for solos. At one time, most of those solos were played by King on his guitar, but now he is content to give the showcase to his horn players, as he does on "Blues Man," or organist James Toney, who claims the lion's share of "Rock Me Baby." There is still plenty of guitar work, however, and King remains seemingly as agile as ever. He is also a relaxed, comfortable frontman, engaging in easy banter with both band and audience.
B.B. King has cut a lot of albums since the success of Live at the Regal. And, like the live shows they document, none of them are any less than solid and professional, hallmarks of King's work aesthetic. But every so often B.B. truly catches fire; his playing and singing comes up an extra notch or two, and the result is a live album with some real sparks to it. Live in Cook County Jail is one of those great concerts that the record company was smart enough to be there to capture, documenting B.B. firing on all cylinders in front of an audience that's just damn happy for him to be there…