B. B. KING: BLUES ON THE BAYOU (1998)
1) Blues Boys Tune; 2) Bad Case Of Love; 3) I'll Survive; 4) Mean Ole' World; 5) Blues Man; 6) Broken Promise; 7) Darlin' What Happened; 8) Shake It Up And Go; 9) Blues We Like; 10) Good Man Gone Bad; 11) If I Lost You; 12) Tell Me Baby; 13) I Got Some Outside Help I Don't Need; 14) Blues In G; 15) If That Ain't It I Quit.
This recording, as close to really good as it is far from really great, is perhaps the closest King ever got, in his later years, to recapturing the vibe of his early years. The liner notes emphasize this return to basics, but nothing emphasizes it as well as the music itself. Straightahead generic 12-bar, no bull attached. No duets, no super-guest-stars, no fancy-wancy hi-tech production tricks, no particular concept, no hit single, and, best of all, no forced attempts at «proving» something. Just a basic blues session for a basic blues guy, working his stuff and loving it.
The predictable down side is that there is nothing to cling to. The setlist is a mix of old standards with a few new, spur-of-the-moment compositions; the backing is fabulously professional and fabulously devoted to staying in the back (it is, after all, rather rude to compete with The King, especially considering he's about as old as all of his players put together); and there is not a single lick here we haven't already heard on earlier records.
Individually, I could perhaps recommend the opening instrumental 'Blues Boys Tune', one of the few, if not the only, pure soul-blues entry here, giving the man ampler possibilities of stretching out; the boogie number 'Shake It Up And Go', an unfrequent occasion of the man cheating on Lucille in favour of an acoustic; and the barroom shakedown of 'If That Ain't It I Quit', with the title constituting the song's only lyrical line.
Collectively, it all adds up to yet another nice disc to put up during partytime or to encourage your grandparents in the «see here, Grandaddy, that's how old folks are supposed to exorcise their boredom» manner. Big additional question mark about the album title — there is nothing even vaguely bayou-like on the record, cleanest-style Chicago blues imaginable. But in all other respects, it's an honest down-to-earth offering, so thumbs up. Bring back the duets now, maybe?
Check out "Blues On The Bayou" (CD) on Amazon
Check out "Blues On The Bayou" (MP3) on Amazon