One Kind Favor

B.B. King

When you’re on a roll, why not go for broke with a legend. That must have been what T Bone Burnett, a producer on a hot streak, may have been thinking when he took the reins on B.B. King’s latest disc, One Kind Favor. A throwback song- and sound-wise, King is joined by Dr. John on piano, Nathan East on bass and Jim Keltner on drums, who help mold and shape a collection of classic old songs that influenced the now-and-present King of Blues.

When you think of B.B. King, who’s had such a profound impact on the blues and many of the musicians it has spawned, it’s hard to appreciate the fact that the legendary octogenarian who has his own channel on Sirius/XM Radio would have heroes of his own. Then again, it was those pioneering blues artists like T-Bone Walker, John Lee Hooker, Big Bill Broonzy and Lonnie Johnson who paved the way for King to take the form worldwide.

The record falls immediately into the well-worn groove of Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” on which King politely dusts the floor and plucks out a few honey-glazed leads on Lucille. Along with Jefferson, other tunes by blues guitarists like Walker (“I Get So Weary”), Johnson (“My Love Is Down”) and Walter Vinson (“The World Is Gone Wrong”) get passionate work-outs. At times, the horn arrangements seem misplaced and ill-advised, yet on something like Oscar Lollie’s “Waiting For Your Call,” their minimal input integrates easily into the fabric of the song. When King gets to “Sitting On Top Of The World,” another Vinson composition famously covered by Ray Charles, Cream and Bob Dylan, you actually believe with a tribute like One Kind Favor in the can, he truly is on top of the world.

~ Shawn Perry

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