Riley “B.B.” King had his 83rd birthday earlier this month and he also has a brand new record out entitled One Kind Favor.Even though he is obviously extremely successful already, a legend in his own time and certainly doesn’t need to promote himself, B.B. still continues to tour extensively, managing over 200 shows every year. (Pretty respectable for a senior citizen!) Likeable, down to earth, highly regarded by other artists and definitely a straight shooter when he’s being interviewed, B.B.King has been cited as an influence by dozens of today’s major players right up to the present day from Eric Clapton to U2. His trademark style has always been a lack of chord emphasis or sliding; instead, King can bend a note into whimpering submission till it simulates a human cry or response. After more than fifty years of success, his solos are still breath taking and as he peals through single notes with a stinging ferocity King shows his audience that the thrill is most definitely not gone!
One Kind Favor is a line taken from the old Blind Lemon Jefferson tune See That My Grave is Kept Clean and this is featured on B.B.King’s latest album. He does a wonderful job with the song – swinging and yet heartfelt – and performed live you can bet that there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house. (Listening at home late at night it’s also pretty sobering … surely this can’t be B.B.King’s last album?)
This entire record has an extremely poignant quality to it and on every track King is giving it his all, his voice breaking with emotion on certain syllables (listen up for “Baby, I’m waitin’ for your call” it will crack you wide open) and growing intentionally more pleading or earnest on others. But here too at other times is a man in his eighties who still knows how to work it – without being creepy! There is no evidence of cloying sentimentality here either – don’t get the wrong idea – it’s a rich and celebratory tapestry of the blues performed with true dignity and more than a few ounces of cool. Just like you’d expect from The King.
Here are the tracks on the album:
1. See That My Grave is Kept Clean
2. I Get So Weary.
3. Get These Blues Off Me
4. How Many More Years
5. Waiting For Your Call
6. My Love is Down
7. The World Is Gone Wrong
8. Blues Before Sunrise
9. Midnight Blues
10. Backwater Blues
11. Sitting On Top Of The World
12. Tomorrow Night
Key musicians include: Drummer Jim Keltner, Bassist Nathan East and pianist Dr.John. The album was produced under the proven skill of T Bone Burnett and the result is a record that is being lauded by critics for its clean, stripped down intensity. This is full-on undiluted B.B. blues with narry a special effect in sight - listen and swoon.
Check out the website too, there's some excellent footage there and good reads too!
Buy One Kind Favor on CD at Amazon.com now!