The RPM and Kent recordings of B.B. King have been comprehensively anthologised on Ace, particularly in the last couple of years with the expanded reissues of B.B.’s Crown albums of the 1950s and early 1960s. However, there are still several B.B. projects on the Ace agenda, and we kick off 2008 with the man’s first entry in the Hip Pocket series – a ‘straight from the original master tape’ reissue of the man’s 1967 Kent album, “The Jungle”.
Of course, B.B. had left the Bihari brothers’ recording empire more than five years before an overdubbed version of the late 50s demo of The Jungle took him to #17 R&B / #94 Pop in the early summer of ’67. Its success merited the release of a full album, assembled from sessions that B.B. had cut mostly towards the end of his Kent tenure, and so it was that “The Jungle” also became the title of his first long player on Kent Records, eventually finding its way onto the various budget labels that were the Biharis’ main financial bread and butter during the late 60s and early 70s.
As well as giving collectors a chance to enjoy the original sleeve, featuring a red-suited Arthur Adams – in profile – masquerading as the Blues Boy, it also gives us a change to hear a original Kent album exactly as it was first released, with alternate stereo mixes and overdubs – some of which are different to those on overdubbed versions released elsewhere – on otherwise familiar tracks. These alternate mixes have never been available on CD before now, making it a must-buy for the B.B. completist.
By Tony Rounce