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Monday, May 31, 2010

B. B. King: Easy Listening Blues


B. B. KING: EASY LISTENING BLUES (1962)

1) Easy Listening Blues; 2) Blues For Me; 3) Night Long; 4) Confessin'; 5) Don't Touch; 6) Slow Walk; 7) Walking; 8) Hully Gully; 9) Shoutin' The Blues; 10) Rambler.

Very easy listening blues. So easy, in fact, that you do not even have to stress out your aural ner­ves responsible for picking up and transmitting the human voice — there is none. After a whole album of non-playing B. B. King (Spirituals), Crown Records have invented yet another way to mar­ket the hypermarketable: a whole album of non-singing B. B. King.

It does, however, serve one important purpose: make one understand how integral King's vocals are to his sound. When we pay for the man, we pay for the pair; anything less than that and you are ripped off mercilessly. The playing on these ten tracks is no better and no worse than else­where — perhaps even a wee bit better than last time around, since, once again, you get diversity: regular mid-tempo 12-bar stuff interspersed with a little boogie, a little rumba, and a little twist. But without the vocals, none of the songs have any actual sense.

Of course, Easy Listening is supposed to mean «stuff you put on while doing housework, so that all the bypassers learn you have real good taste». But here is the shameful secret: I thought pretty much all of B. B. King's albums from the Crown era (and quite a few from later periods) are «ea­sy listening», and I never expected the stakes were only waiting to be lowered. Am I wrong? Are we supposed to listen to the previous ten albums as if they had lots of deep, penetrating stuff to tell us? I do not really buy it. B. B. King's primary function is entertainment, and this album is low-quality entertainment because it deprives us of a deserved half of it. Thumbs down.

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