Ultimate Collection
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66 of 66 people found the following review helpful
B.B. King is certainly the greatest living ambassador of the blues that we have and this latest anthology--released ahead of his eightieth birthday next September--is a well chosen collection of some of his best and best known songs. However, condensing a 50-plus-year recording career onto a single disc and calling it THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION borders on chutzpah.

However, give the compilers at Geffen Records their due. Through cross licensing they have been able to include some of his early RPM and Kent singles as well as his MCA material. [MCA has been B. B. King's home since the late sixties.] The set begins with his first No. 1 R&B single "Three O'Clock Blues" in 1951 and continues through with the most recent song "Ten Long Years" from 2000's collaboration with Eric Clapton, RIDING WITH THE KING.

Even at twenty-one tracks, there is much that had to be eliminated from this collection. Only the last four tracks represent King's post-seventies output. And over the past half dozen years alone, King has released some powerful albums, including 1999's tribute to the music of Louis Jordan LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL and 2003's collection of standards REFLECTIONS, neither of which is represented here.

What you do get though is classic B.B. King, including his 1964 crossover hit "Rock Me Baby," a couple tracks from 1965's LIVE AT THE REGAL "Every Day I Have the Blues and "Sweet Little Angel," his signature song "The Thrill Is Gone" (which at No. 15 was his highest charting pop hit in 1970), and the 7" edit and mix of "When Love Comes to Town" with U2.

Overall, this is a satisfying collection and makes for a nice introduction to the music of B.B. King. If you want a broader overview, consider 2000's 2-disc anthology or 1992's box set KING OF THE BLUES
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2005
Finally - a really good single-disc compilation which doesn't exclude King's earliest (and best) material.
Much better than "Greatest Hits" and more affordable than various multi-disc compilations, "The Ultimate Collection" is the place to start for newcomers and curious listeners who want to know what Riley "B.B." King is all about.
"Three O'Clock Blues", "You Upset Me Baby", "Sweet Little Angel"...this is not everything you could ever want from B.B., but it is a very fine place to start.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
B.B. plays what he feels in every single song. That's a rarity among all the young blues neophytes out there but the fact that he did from his very first recording says a lot about the man. From the very first chords of "Three O'Clock Blues" to the rock swagger of "When Come Comes To Town" (recorded and written by U2), B.B. energized every note, every word with meaning.

This isn't the best collection of B.B.'s music. For that you'd have to go to the boxed set "King of the Blues" which is now over a decade old. It's missing everything he's recorded since 1992 so isn't quite as complete as it could be either. As a single disc collection, though, you can't go wrong with this outstanding set. Yes, "The Thrill is Gone" also makes another appearence but because it'ssuch an important track (it broke B.B. to a wider audience and became his first crossover hit)it certainly deserves to be included. The extensive liner notes gives us a glimpse of B.B.'s life from the day he entered the world as Riley King the son of a sharecropper (something he himself did briefly as well). It's clear from even these early sides (the first four tracks)he didn't have blood flowing through his veins but the Mississippi Delta's rich water.

Focusing primarily on his singles (although there's a generous helping of album tracks as well), this collection could easily have been doubled or tripled in length (much as Bruce Springsteen's "Ultimate Collection" was). From the plainative fragment "Nobody Loves Me But My Mother" (with the sad but witty comment, ..and she could be jiving me") through to B.B.'s collaborations with U2 (the single is featured here with backing vocals that I don't seem to recall on the album version)and England's Mississippi Delta King Eric Clapton, this fine collection captures the King in fine form.

After this you'd do well to pick up the following classic albums; "Live at the Regal", "Lucille" (named after his beloved guitar), "Live in Cook County Jail" (one of his most powerful performances), "Indianola Mississippi Seeds". Dip your toes in the Mississippi Delta and you'll never regret it!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
B. B. King is one of the best known bluesmen of the past several decades. His first hit came in 1951 with the wonderful "Three O'clock Blues" (more on this cut below). Nonetheless, his reputation was not very widespread among "mainstream" America. That changed with the British invasion (the Rolling Stones, Animals, Yardbirds, and so on) as well as the Paul Butterfield Blues Band (the liner notes do a good job of chronicling King's career). By the later 1960s, he became well known to people throughout the world. And in 1970, his great song, "The Thrill is Gone," became a hit. Even though this is a nice compilation of his best works, one can always wonder about items excluded. Personally, I regret that "Why I Sing the Blues" was not a part of this CD. But that is hardly a major problem. One final comment before taking a look at a sampling of his works on this CD. His guitar playing, of course, is legendary, but his is a restrained style, not spitting out a bazillion notes in a few seconds, as some guitarists are wont to do. But his guitar playing is mesmerizing.

Some cuts:

"Three O'clock Blues": This is a nice example of his blues singing. He has a fine voice, a nice blues voice. He looks around, in the song, at 3 O'clock in the morning.

"Well, I can't find my baby,
Lord, I can't be satisfied."

His guitar work is sterling, but understated. There is a very well done guitar turn about 2/3 of the way through. All in all, a strong work.

"Sweet Sixteen": This cut begins with some very well done guitar work. Not wild playing, but controlled and oh so effective. It reminds one that playing fast is not necessarily playing well. He sings of when he met his baby, when she was "sweet sixteen." He says that she was "the sweetest thing I ever seen." But then things soured and she left. He displays great blues singing, as he wails away about her running away from him.

"The Thrill Is Gone": Quintessential B. B. King. This features wonderful guitar work. "The thrill is gone" is sung throughout as a recurring phrase. The pain of lost love is manifest. And his splendid guitar work is a glue that holds the work together.

"Nobody Loves Me but My Mother": This is short but cool! One of my favorites. There is nice keyboard playing. One of the great blues lines is repeated in this bagatelle:

"Nobody loves me but my mother,
And she could be jiving, too."

When all is said and done, this is a good way for anyone interested in B. B. King to be introduced to his work. His blues playing on guitar and his singing are top notch. A good CD to add to one's musical library.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2005
This collection of great songs begins with the early hits and moves thru time to the more recent collaborations with U2 and Eric Clapton. You can really hear B.B. King grow as an artist as the album progresses and recording techniques improve. The songs themselves are truly classic : the lyrics to How Blue Can You Get belong in a museum. I especially recommend Paying The Cost To Be The Boss , Never Make A Move Too Soon, and his signature song, The Thrill Is Gone. There is no way that any blues fan cannot enjoy this cd
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2005
Hey, it's the king. This CD is all encompassing and superbly recorded. If you are new to B.B. King or just want to add to your collection, you will not be dissapointed.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2006
One of the best compilation CD's that I have ever heard!!! Includes many of B.B.'s early work, without any sugar coating. Includes songs that today might be considered mildly controversial like "Don't Answer the Door" and "Paying the Cost to be the Boss" and classics like "Rock me Baby" all the way through more modern hits like "When Love Comes to Town" with U2. This is a CD that you can play over and over again without getting tired of it.
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on February 6, 2014
2005 Release - 21 Tracks "Three O'Clock Blues, Please Love me, You Upset Me Baby, Sweet Sixteen, Pts. 1 & 2, Everyday I Have the Blues, Sweet Little Angel (Live), Don't Answer the Door, Paying the Cost to Be the Boss, The Thrill is Gone, Nobody Loves Me but my Mother (now that is blues), Chains and Things, Ain't Nobody Home, I Like to Live the Love, Never Make a Move too Soon (good track), Better Not Look Down (good), There Must Be a Better World Somewhere, When Love Comes to Town (7" Version), Ten Long Years, I'll Survive" - all good blues, BB King rules, I went to Memphis, TN, Fall 2006, from Illinois Valley (Peru area), wanted to see it, rather than just passing through on the way to/from Nashville as a kid or 19 year old, on my way to California or home to Arizona while in USAF, so wife & I went, saw Quincy, IL on the way there, other places in TN & KY on the way home, did not tour Elvis Mansion, but saw BB's place in town, & the Bronze statues at the Riverwalk nearly under the bridge, the monorail hanging down, had BBQ Beef with slaw, Catfish, & St. Jude's Hospital, a shiny blue silver Pyramid (hey it's Memphis), saw what we wanted, enjoyed a October vacation there. If you like blues, John Lee Hooker, this album is sweet, recommend you get it while you can. B. B. King is a blues Great. Felt good to walk, be there, Memphis was the place. Enjoy your purchase. (I also like Nina Samone, & Billie Holiday. Hey, I'm Tennessee born, raised in Los Angeles '49-61, '69-99) -30-
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on February 9, 2010
BB King never ceases to amaze me. He is well into his eighties, he has diabetes, and he still continues to perform hundreds of concerts a year. It's incredible. And his fans deserve just as much respect as he does.

And that's why they should treat themselves to this CD. It is absolutely an essential addition to any blues collection. Classics like "The Thrill Is Gone" and "How Blue Can You Get," fun songs like "Rock Me Baby" and "When Love Comes to Town," and everything in between are all here. It's everything you've come to expect in BB, and then some.

And the real beauty is, the thrill will never be gone. Thanks to modern technology, you can enjoy BB over and over on CD. You deserve this, and you won't regret this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2015
Great collection, one of my favorite albums.
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