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B.B. King - B.B. King & Friends 80 (2005)

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B.B. King - B.B. King & Friends 80 (2005)

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1 	Early In The Morning    Featuring – Van Morrison	4:50
2 	Tired Of Your Jive    Featuring – Billy F Gibbons	3:52
3 	The Thrill Is Gone    Featuring – Eric Clapton	5:03
4 	Need Your Love So Bad    Featuring – Sheryl Crow	3:57
5 	Ain't Nobody Home    Featuring – Daryl Hall	3:51
6 	Hummingbird    Featuring – John Mayer		4:41
7 	All Over Again    Featuring – Mark Knopfler	4:53
8 	Drivin' Wheel    Featuring – Glenn Frey	4:19
9 	There Must Be A Better World Somewhere    Featuring – Gloria Estefan	6:50
10 	Never Make Your Move Too Soon    Featuring – Roger Daltrey	4:59
11 	Funny How Time Slips Away    Featuring – Bobby Bland	4:08
12 	Rock This House    Featuring – Elton John	3:06
13 	Early In The Morning (Alternate Take - B.B. Solo) 	3:57

B.B. King – Guitar, Vocals
Guy Babylon - Keyboards
Bob Birch - Bass
Bobby "Blue" Bland - Vocals
Robbie Buchanan - Keyboards, Organ
David Campbell - Conductor, String Arrangements
Larry Campbell - Guitar
Eric Clapton - Guitar
Clem Clempson - Guitar
Sheryl Crow - Vocals
Roger Daltrey - Vocals
Gloria Estefan - Vocals
Brandon Fields - Saxophone
Glenn Frey - Guitar, Vocals
Billy Gibbons - Guitar, Vocals
Gary Grant - Trumpet
Daryl Hall - Vocals
Jerry Hey - Conductor, Horn Arrangements, Trumpet
Elton John - Piano, Vocals
Davey Johnstone - Guitar
Mark Knopfler - Guitar
Russ Kunkel - Drums
John Mahon - Percussion
John Mayer - Guitar, Vocals
Brian Mitchell - Keyboards
Van Morrison - Harmonica, Vocals
Nigel Olsson - Drums
Dean Parks - Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm)
William Frank "Bill" Reichenbach Jr. - Trombone
Leland Sklar - Bass
Luke Smith - Organ (Hammond)
Chris Stainton - Keyboards
Ian Thomas - Drums
Billy Ward - Drums
T-Bone Wolk - Bass

 

Released the week of B.B. King's 80th birthday, 80 is a star-studded duets album, the first B.B. released since 1997's Deuces Wild. It was recorded in a variety of locations in the spring of 2005 and features a variety of guest artists, ranging from the familiar (Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Bobby Bland) to the unsurprising (Billy Gibbons, Mark Knopfler, Elton John, Sheryl Crow) to the frankly bewildering (John Mayer, Daryl Hall, Gloria Estefan). Unfortunately, the material isn't quite as wide-ranging -- in fact, it leans toward the overly familiar, with a pleasant, thoroughly bland version of "The Thrill Is Gone" with Eric Clapton sadly living up to its title. There are a couple other bum tracks -- most notably the turgid slow blues "There Must Be a Better World Somewhere," which drags on for an interminable seven minutes, or a full six minutes longer than needed to prove that sultry blues is not Gloria Estefan's forte -- but for the most part, 80 plays better than it reads on paper. Most of it is solid, straight-ahead big band blues, firmly within B.B.'s comfort zone and sounding appropriately comfortable -- not as in boring, but warm, relaxed, and friendly, whether he's playing with old friends like Bobby Bland or with John Mayer, who acquits himself well as a guitarist, even if his voice is overwhelmed by B.B.'s towering presence. There are couple of nice little surprises along the way, such as how "Ain't Nobody Home" with Daryl Hall works up a nice soulful groove or how Sheryl Crow reveals that she's a convincing blues singer (there are also some unpleasant surprises, as on "Tired of Your Jive," an otherwise fine track that's derailed by the realization that Billy Gibbons' voice has been torn to shreds, leaving a phlegmy mess behind), but the best moments come from the old guard of the British Invasion. Roger Daltrey proves that he's singing better than ever with "Never Make Your Move Too Soon," Elton John and his house band really cook on a terrific "Rock This House," but it's Van Morrison who steals the show with "Early in the Morning," a clean but down-and-dirty version of the standard. It's the best thing here, but it's unfortunate that it kicks off the album, since it suggests that this might be a harder-hitting blues album than normal from B.B. It's not -- it's a slick, stylish, professional record, one that's actually a little more straightforward than he's been at any time since, well, Deuces Wild. Coming after some truly interesting records over the last few years, the predictability of 80 is a bit of a disappointment, but there's still a bunch of good stuff to hear, and, no matter how you look at it, for B.B. to be recording and still sounding vital at 80 is a remarkable thing even if the album that commemorates his birthday falls short of the remarkable itself. --- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

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