B.B. King, King of the Blues + My Kind of Blues

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 12.28.11 in Reviews

King of the Blues + My Kind of Blues (Bonus Track Version)

B.B. King
The most well-rounded collection of early King

This compilation collects two of B.B. King’s early LPs (plus some bonus tracks). He has said that My Kind of Blues (tracks 11-20 here) is his favorite of his albums, and it’s easy to see why. Backed only by bass, drums and piano, he cut it in one session, and it represents the unembellished B.B. King — spare, clean and to the point. It has both the sound and feel of a relaxed, live set. “You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now” opens with his bristling guitar and then gives him extra room to stretch out on his solo; “It’s My Own Fault, Baby” is a stirring vocal showcase. King of the Blues is a more arranged affair, and perhaps also a tad more upbeat than much of his early output. He’s still working towards his jazzy, “classic” guitar style of fluid, immaculate bent notes and the like — the tone and attack here are harder and fuller — but he’s definitely getting there. None of the hits featured — “I’ve Got a Right to Love My Baby,” “Partin’ Time,” “Walkin’ Dr. Bill” — are among his signature songs, but they’re far from being throwaways, too. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more well-rounded collection of early King.