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The King Of The Blues celebrates his 80th Birthday later this year, and Universal kicks off a year long celebration with the most complete single disc B.B. King collection ever. The Ultimate Collection collects B.B.'s legendary hits and signature songs between 1951 and 2000, from his first hit, 'Three O'Clock Blues' to his recordings with Eric Clapton and U2. MCA. 2005.
B.B. King's music has been anthologized and put in box sets many times, but this is the first single-disc collection that truly spans the American icon's career. It starts with his breakthrough 1951 No. 1 R&B hit "Three O'Clock Blues" and ends, chronologically, with 2000's "Ten Long Years" from his platinum-selling, pop-chart-topping smash collaboration with Eric Clapton, Riding with the King. In between there are 19 numbers that trace King's creative peaks (1969's "The Thrill is Gone," 1960's "Rock Me Baby") and valleys (1973's disco-inspired "I Like to Live the Love"). And they all tell the story of his growth as a performer. As the years and tunes tumble by, King's guitar solos become more expansive and adventurous, and his cross-genre experiments, like 1987's "When Love Come to Town" with U2, grow bolder. "I'll Survive," also featured here, has become King's late-career theme song, but as he heads toward his 80th birthday on September 16, 2005--still playing 150 concerts a year with his vastly influential guitar skills sharp and his voice just a bit weathered--King's version of survival contains genuine majesty. --Ted Drozdowski
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"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.