B.B. KING - Mr. Blues & Confesson' The Blues (2005)
This CD contains B.B. King's first ABC-Paramount studio efforts -- Mr. Blues (1962) and Confessin' the Blues (1965), respectively. While there are inevitable similarities between the projects, offering them back-to-back allows listeners an acute sense of King's rapid maturation and development during what was by all accounts the nexus of the guitarist/vocalist's career. The dozen-song Mr. Blues was a haphazard start for King with the contents taken from three different recording sessions in a 13-month period (March 1, 1962 through April 11, 1963). Based on the results, the artist was being presented as a blues shouter, supported by an antiquated big band and/or orchestra. Arguably the best of the lot comes from the Maxwell Davis led ensemble on the first of several Big Joe Turner tunes, the Ahmet Ertegun penned "Chains of Love." The upgrade of Ivory Joe Hunter's "Blues at Midnight" is closer to the spirit of modern era King as he aptly demonstrates his singular testifyin' style. The fun and frolic of both "I'm Gonna Sit in 'Til You Give In" and "My Baby's Comin' Home" are the least dated of the bunch, indicating the direction that King would ultimately take. The landmark Live at the Regal (1964) is a critical link to the albums featured on Mr. Blues/Confessin' the Blues (2005). It essentially redefined B.B. King's presence in the (then) modern blues revival. He retained his expressive combo from Live at the Regal with Duke Jethro (piano), Leo Lauchie (bass), and Sonny Freeman (drums) who have collectively become increasingly adept at providing King room for his solos. Plus, they generally support -- rather than detract from -- his skills as a vocalist. Still, on the whole, Confessin' the Blues comes off as forced at times -- as if there were a mandate for King to become a mix between Ray Charles and Joe Turner. The tracks "See See Rider," "In the Dark," and Jay "Hootie" McShann's "Confessin' the Blues" are bound to their solid arrangements. That leaves very little space for King to fill in the gaps left by the overpowering horn section. These discrepancies are made up for with the likes of the intimate "Do You Call That a Buddy." Not only does the relaxed groove bear sonic traces of Bobby "Blue" Bland's hit interpretation of "St. James Infirmary," it is a harbinger of things to come from King. Among the other classic keepers are "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town," "How Long, How Long Blues," and not surprisingly, a few sides made famous by none other than Big Joe Turner himself with "Cherry Red" and "Wee Baby Blues." Standing out from the rest is the cover of Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love" that concludes Confessin' and this anthology alike. With an old-fashioned big band behind him, King exudes a mastery over the performance. As if he were putting the song in its place, he playfully lords over in what is a formative example of the approach King would subsequently become known for. Audiophiles should note that the 2006 reissue of Mr. Blues by Hip-O Select was given a fresh digital remastering by Gavin Lurssen to comparatively superior results. - allmusic.com
TRACKS: 01. Young Dreamers 02. By Myself 03. Chains Of Love 04. A Mother’s Love 05. Blues At Midnight 06. Sneakin’ Around 07. On My Word Of Honor 08. Tomorrow Night 09. My Baby’s Comin’ Home 10. Guess Who? 11. You Ask Me 12. I’m Gonna Sit In ’Til You Give In 13. See See Rider 14. Do You Call That A Buddy 15. Wee Baby Blues 16. I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water 17. In The Dark 18. Confessin’ The Blues 19. Goin’ To Chicago Blues 20. I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town 21. World Of Trouble 22. How Long, How Long Blues 23. Cherry Red 24. Please Send Me Someone To Love
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