Thursday, January 07, 2016

B.B. King Sweet Little Angel

B. B. King
My Sweet Little Angel

This Flair release is most welcome reissue of vintage 1950s recordings by the Beale Street Blues Boy that originally appeared on the English Ace label. It includes a number of his original chart-making hits such as the originals of Sweet Little Angel, Crying Won’t Help You Now (done at a nice loping tempo), Worry Worry and Clarence Garlow’s Please Accept My Love. There are some alternate takes, a solid instrumental version of Louis Jordan’s Ain’t That Just Like a Woman, along with the previously unissued String Bean, with his picking style almost like Gatemouth Brown.

These twenty-one titles come from a variety of sessions, some with his road band, others with Los Angeles studio bands. All represent prime B.B. King who was touring the chitlin circuit over 300 nights a year while squeezing in recording sessions, and creating a body of recordings that, along with those by T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters, defined modern blues. But these are more than historic recordings. B.B. was after all a great singer, not simply a great guitarist. If he hadn’t been as great a singer, he wouldn’t have had the extensive popularity nor recorded as frequently, both of which facilitated his influence on other performers.

While it would have been nice to have discographical information, the music is what ultimately matters, and this is a vintage collection that may be the best available reissue of King’s recordings of this period. Essential.

This review appeared in the November 1993 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 186) and I likely received my review copy from either the record copy or Jazz & Blues Report. You may still be able to find copies of the US release of this as well as the UK Ace Records edition.  Here is B.B. King performing "Sweet Little Angel."

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