B. B. KING: THE BLUES (1958)
1) Why Does Everything Happen To Me; 2) Ruby Lee; 3) When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer; 4) Past Day; 5) Boogie Woogie Woman; 6) Early Every Morning; 7) I Want To Get Married; 8) That Ain't The Way To Do It; 9) Troubles, Troubles, Troubles; 10) Don't You Want A Man Like Me; 11) You Know I Go For You; 12) What Can I Do?.
Singin' The Blues is at least historically important in that it collects B. B.'s hit singles from an entire half-decade; by the time it became necessary to issue a follow-up, with LPs slowly, but steadily taking on as a medium at least as important as the 45", the golden vaults were exhausted, and so, this and the following several LPs are extremely uneven on the commercial scale.
On the other hand, The Blues is where King truly begins to demonstrate traces of stylistic versatility and show how easily he can adapt himself to different times. If the debut LP was mostly limited to «hardcore blues» and «blues ballads», here we have ourselves some bossa nova ('Ruby Lee', 'Don't You Want A Man Like Me'), some stompin' boogie ('Boogie Woogie Woman', 'That Ain't The Way To Do It'), and even a timid attempt at a rawer rockabilly sound ('Early Every Morning').
It is quite transparent that B. B. is trying to toughen up his image: there are practically no attempts at crooning, and most of the «soul» attitude is sacrificed in order to make space for more rock'n'roll. However, just like before, the songs are simply way too short, and have been cut way too quickly, for any of this material to acquire some individuality, and, from the first track to the last, it merely plays as acceptable background music with stylish (for their time) guitar licks.
The only «classic» hit here was 'When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer', which, in its studio version, is simply one more undistinguishable example of blues-de-luxe (slow tempo, brass section, soulful vocals, recognizable soloing, B. B. had like a million of these songs out back in those days); seek out various live versions to explore its true potential. The «sleeper» is 'Early Every Morning', which does have one of the best examples of King's fast playing on record (much more fluent and complex than Chuck Berry's, but also, predictably, less ass-kicking).