B. B. KING: TAKE IT HOME (1979)
1) Better Not Look Down; 2) Same Old Story (Same Old Song); 3) Happy Birthday Blues; 4) I've Always Been Lonely; 5) Second-Hand Woman; 6) Tonight I'm Gonna Make You A Star; 7) The Beginning Of The End; 8) A Story Everybody Knows; 9) Take It Home.
It's not bad, but something did not click this second time around. Simply put, there is a bit too much Crusaders on the album, and not enough King for me. Midnight Believer was a good mix of styles that gave us casual, non-hardcore listeners the best possible formula: B. B.'s blues essence interspersed with various catchy distractions. On Take It Home, the distractions have all but dissolved the essence.
King sings passionately enough, but Lucille, once again, finds itself playing second, if not twenty second, fiddle to all of the Crusaders' diddle; on most, perhaps all, of these numbers it's as if nobody had the patience to let the old man find a good, meaningful groove for these songs, and just went along with the second take before he even began getting into the spirit. Who cares anyway, if you're gonna mix that guitar below all the saxes and keyboards and gospel backing vocals?
Which is a pity, because the songs, generally credited to Will Jennings and Joe Sample, are decent: nothing too original, mostly just slight modifications of old blues rock and R'n'B warhorses, but nevertheless modified and rearranged to the point of justifying that generic late Seventies funky soul sound (and, once again, not a single swig of disco, although 'A Story Everybody Knows', the cheesiest number on the record, comes somewhat close). The title track is a particularly uplifting anthem, the kind of totally by-the-numbers, but still sweet and charming, R'n'B number that today's R'n'B artists have completely lost the knack of churning out — and King is able to let his singing go with the flow, but the guitar playing, alas, seriously lags behind.
The only number here that I find deserving of truly classic status is the short, almost inconspicuous 'Beginning Of The End', distinguished by its subtle buildup: first verse rhythmless — second with the rhythm section joining in — third with the brass backup really pushing it, all the way to King's ecstatic final. Up to the point, heavy on the good old guitar sound, and admirably modest. Of course, there is something ominous in the fact that the best song on a 1979 B. B. King album bears such a title, but, after all, the end has to begin somewhere. I cannot bring myself to issuing a thumbs down — I honestly enjoyed most of this platter — but it is still disappointing, considering how lucky King turned out to be in the late seventies, evading the disco temptation and staying firmly routed in the «true sound», and how he failed to make good use of that luck.
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