B.B. King, Blues Summit

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 12.28.11 in Reviews

Blues Summit

B.B. King
A collaborative album performed with authority

The collaborative album is another concept that seems to work best when tackled by a real veteran like King. How else to explain the devastating melancholy between B’s guitar and Etta James’s voice on “There Is Something on Your Mind,” or the barroom jousting between King and swamp queen Katie Webster on “Since I Met You Baby,” or how delightful Ruth Brown’s sassiness is on “You’re the Boss”? King and Albert Collins try to burn each other down on “Call It Stormy Monday” and succeed mainly in bringing out the best in one another. The whole album is like that, whether King’s teaching a lesson to relative newcomers like Robert Cray and Joe Louis Walker or digging down to the roots with old masters like John Lee Hooker. Credit producer Denny Diante (an unlikely choice) for preserving the chemistry by not forcing marquee-name rockers on B.B. The star performs with more authority than he showed at any other time in the last 20 years.