B.B. King, Back in the Alley

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 12.28.11 in Reviews

Back In The Alley

B.B. King
Short but satisfying

A slapped-together compilation of live and studio recordings that put a ’60s spin on even the ’50s material, this is short (just over 42 minutes) but satisfying. For starters, if you were to limit yourself to just one King track that definitively laid out the fully-developed range of his guitar playing, from the raunchy to the refined, you’d be crazy not to take “Lucille,” a good-natured love song to his instrument. “Don’t Answer the Door” and “Paying the Cost to Be the Boss” are B.B. at his most defiant and paranoid, the former slow and spare, the latter jumpy and full; “I’m Gonna Do What They Do to Me” adds an exclamation point to both. All of these tracks are beautifully arranged, with each one boasting an exciting big band sound that still leaves the spotlight on B’s expansive voice and razor-sharp guitar.