Archive for B.B. King

Cool Covers

Posted in Cool Covers with tags , , , on September 7, 2008 by 30daysout

B.B. King’s One Kind Favor is one of the better albums of the year, and probably the best of King’s long career.  The album’s dozen songs were all popular blues tunes when King’s career was taking off in the 1940s and 1950s, and they were all great influences – hence the album’s title. 

Howlin' Wolf

As we said in our review of the album, it’s tough to pick out highlights on an album this strong.  But one song that jumped out at me was “How Many More Years,” originally by blues legend Howlin’ Wolf.  Although the song is a staple of compilations put out on Chicago-based Chess Records, “How Many More Years” was actually recorded in 1951 in Memphis.  The Wolf was working on Sun Records, and the song was produced by the legendary Sam Phillips.  That’s Ike Turner on piano!  The song was released as a single; it went to No. 4 on the R&B charts, and was instrumental in getting Howlin’ Wolf signed to Chess a few years later.

Howlin’ Wolf, whose real name was Chester Burnett, worked with the great songwriter Willie Dixon and produced a number of blues classics including “Smokestack Lightning,” “The Red Rooster” and “Spoonful,” covered by everyone from Cream to the Rolling Stones.  Howlin’ Wolf died in 1976, and Eric Clapton purchased a stone for his grave.

MP3: “How Many More Years” by Howlin’ Wolf

MP3: “How Many More Years” by B.B. King

YouTube: Howlin’ Wolf in 1966

Review: “One Kind Favor,” B.B. King

Posted in Review with tags , , on August 28, 2008 by 30daysout

Hands down the best blues album of the year, and one of the year’s best in any genre, One Kind Favor is a triumphant return to form for one of American music’s classic artists.  At age 82, B.B. King returns to his blues roots and offers 12 covers of songs that influenced him in his early years.  Produced by T-Bone Burnett (John Mellencamp, Robert Plant/Alison Krauss), the album is certainly a highlight for the venerable King.  They tried to make it sound like an album recorded in the 1950s and the band – including Jim Keltner on drums, Dr. John on piano and Nathan East on standup bass – provides solid backup while not stealing the spotlight from B.B. and, of course, Lucille.  It’s tough to pick out highlights on an album this strong, but “Blues Before Sunrise” (from John Lee Hooker) has a nice groove and “How Many More Years” (Howlin’ Wolf) is a rousing stomper, while “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” (Blind Lemon Jefferson) bobs along with a jaunty second-line beat.   King’s not afraid to slow it down with “Get These Blues Off Me” or “My Love Is Down.”  Like Buddy Guy’s current Skin Deep, B.B. King has produced an unexpectedly strong album in his twilight years.  One Kind Favor is an essential addition to any serious collection of American music.  Highly recommended.

MP3: “Blues Before Sunrise”

MP3: “Get These Blues Off Me”

B. B. King official website