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Monday, August 30, 2010

B. B. King: Guess Who

B. B. KING: GUESS WHO (1972)

1) Summer In The City; 2) Just Can't Please You; 3) Any Other Way; 4) You Don't Know Nothin' About Love; 5) Found What I Need; 6) Neighborhood Affair; 7) It Takes A Young Girl; 8) Better Lovin' Man; 9) Guess Who; 10) Shouldn't Have Left Me; 11) Five Long Years.

Not that dumb a title, considering that the proceedings open with a Lovin' Spoonful cover — then again, B. B. has always been omnivorous, open to bluesy reworkings of everything from Beet­hoven to the Beatles. Overall, though, it is way too easy to guess who, especially since way too many songs on here dishearteningly hearken back to King's overproduced, underperformed balla­d­e­ering style of the early Sixties.

Somehow, upon returning from London, B. B. managed to lose all the great musicians that bac­ked him up on the 1968-1970 albums, and the result is mere languid competence. Dropping the jams, restraining the guitar in favour of ensemble playing dominated by keyboards and horns, se­lecting formulaic material — all of this is a very sharp drop in quality, for no apparent reason other than unlucky circumstances.

The major highlight should have been 'Five Long Years', perfectly tailored to suit B. B.'s blues-de-luxe formula, but it does not work too well, I'm afraid: Lucille has a tough time out there, pin­ned down by all the horns and, for some reason, opting for a smooth, tender tone rather than «bla­zing sharp» which is really what is needed. Even so, it is the most outstanding track on the entire album bar the unexpected, not-unpleasant but not-highly-rewarding surprise of B. B. playing out the gentle melancholy of 'Summer In The City'.

Some people care for the title track — I do not. It's as if King decided to mix in a little bit of that Champs-Elysées style with his blues pattern, and the cheesy sentimentality, swimming in pools of orchestral and keyboard sap, kills off all the healthy antibodies. Thumbs down.

1 comment:

  1. Well... almost the entire Live in Japan band features on this album.