B. B. KING: BLUES IN MY HEART (1962)
1) You're Gonna Miss Me; 2) Got 'Em Bad; 3) Troubles Don't Last; 4) Your Letter; 5) I Can't Explain; 6) The Wrong Road; 7) I Need You Baby; 8) So Many Roads; 9) Down Hearted; 10) Strange Things.
How do you tell a corporate profanation of the art of B. B. King from a shackle-free celebration of the art of B. B. King? Simple. If all the ballads, rumbas, and twists make you miss the blues, you're in for the whoring. If, on the contrary, all the blues makes you miss the rumbas and twists, you know you're in for the real stuff.
At this particular session, there really was quite a big deal of blues in B. B.'s heart. In fact, there is so much blues in his heart, it ends up sharing the fate of too much fat in the broth of the proverbial greedy innkeeper who was promised to be paid by the spot. Meaning, of course, that all of the songs sound so much the same, it takes a significant attention span to notice the breaks.
It must have been a fun session, but with the exact same mid-tempo 12-bar structure all over the place, there is hardly an album that can make a worse case against the limitations of the blues. 'Down Hearted', a.k.a. 'How Blue Can You Get', is taken at a wee bit slower tempo and sounds a little bit more personal ('I gave you seven children, and now you wanna give 'em back' is as classic as a blues line can get), which is probably why it got a single release, but, as far as I know, it was not a big hit anyway. The rest are all interchangeable.
On the positive side, if you survive one intent listen to this, King's ensuing output will look like the epitome of diversity in comparison — and so, by the way, will almost every other electric blues album released ever since. This is, like, the utmost in hardcore 12-bar; and I used to think Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac could be boring. You live, you learn.