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Wails - The Crown Series Vol 2, CD (£7.43)
Fans of vintage B.B. King who are still picking themselves off the floor or ceiling after THE VINTAGE YEARS 4-CD box set (ABOXCD 8) shouldn't change into clean clothes just yet. Ace has begun the next phase of its campaign to reissue his prime 1950s and 1960s work for the Bihari brothers' labels. In keeping with Ace's goal of issuing every B.B. King track for the Biharis of significance on CD, the spotlight now turns to B.B.'s twelve LPs which originally appeared on Crown between 1957 and 1963, all slated for reissue at mid-price with the original covers and additional related alternate, obscure and unissued tracks. The first two volumes provide both short term gratification and long term promise.
Releasing these CDs at a reduced price echoes the LPs' original budget status, which exasperated and, at least in his eyes, demeaned and limited B.B. enough to motivate him to take his quest for respect and recognition to ABC Paramount in 1962. While understanding his point of view, one can also note that those LPs, subsequently repackaged on other budget labels, nonetheless made B.B.'s music more accessible to many buyers, and the modest product placement doesn't diminish the enduring magnificence of the music. This debuting CD series, carefully and generously compiled by John Broven and prepared with Ace's exemplary sonic rigour, combines the best of old and new.
The second release in our extensive CD reissue series of B.B. King's LPs for the Crown label between 1957 and 1963, with bonus tracks including previously unissued material.
B.B. KING WAILS, which first found its way to dime store record racks as B.B.'s third Crown album around April 1959 and was later retitled I LOVE YOU SO on other cheapie labels, offers a musical contrast. It was oriented towards a comparatively lavish big band sound, with an idiomatic ballad quotient and a stylish, uptown feel and diversity of mood. Its orchestration is more representative of B.B.'s highly regarded road band of the time than the stripped down (but no less effective) MY KIND OF BLUES. In fact, his working group seems to be the core of the studio ensemble.
Though devoid of major hits (the only song to chart was an overdubbed The Woman I Love in 1968), the impact of the original programme can be heard via covers of I've Got Papers On You Baby (most notably by Magic Sam for whom it was a live staple) and The Woman I Love, one of two remakes of different Dr. Clayton songs issued under the same title by the Biharis. Sweet Thing is a worthy variation on Sweet Sixteen. The eight additions include a nice alternate You've Been An Angel (another B.B. tune later covered by Otis Rush) and an alternate Why I Sing The Blues-.-original Kent 45s I Stay In The Mood (which charted in '66) and Trouble In Mind-.-the previously unheard big band ballads Yesterday (nothing to do with Lennon & McCartney!) and My Silent Prayer-.-plus collaborations with the renowned orchestras of Count Basie and Tommy Dorsey.
Two down, ten more affordable gems beckoning soon - it's time to start clearing some shelf space and explaining to the family why it's rice and beans for dinner again!