Universally hailed as the reigning king of the blues, the legendary B.B. King is without a doubt the single most important electric guitarist of the last half century. A contemporary blues guitar solo without at least a couple of recognizable King-inspired bent notes is all but unimaginable, and he remains a supremely confident singer capable of wringing every nuance from any lyric (and he's tried his hand at many an unlikely song, anybody recall his version of "Love Me Tender?"). This live recording album features 9 tracks.
The very thing that made Luther Allison noteworthy became an albatross around his neck. Years after his initial run of records in the '70s, he was known for the same thing he was at the time – he was the only blues artist on Gordy, or any Motown affiliated label. This was true and novel, but many focused on the novelty, not the truth, ignoring Allison's status as a terrific torchbearer of raw Chicago blues. Some of material illustrates some contemporary influence – dig that funky groove and organ on "Raggedy and Dirty," or the rock-oriented slow burn of Mel London's "Cut You A-Loose" – but as his original title track illustrates, he can also deliver a torturous, impassioned slow grind. Still, this isn't an album about originality, it's a record how tradition can remain alive in a contemporary setting. Apart from the slightly cleaner production and the extended running time, this could have been released 15 years earlier, since its heart is in classic Chicago blues, particularly Chess. He draws on Willie Dixon via Howlin' Wolf for the first two tracks, dipping into Elmore James and B.B. King's catalogs later on in the record.
This powerhouse set of live recordings from early in Robben Ford's distinguished career boasts solo-laden 10-minute-plus versions of B.B. King's "Sweet Sixteen" and John Lee Hooker's "It's My Own Fault." Ford, who has worked with Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, and George Harrison, plays surprisingly sweet, agile saxophone on Don Raye's jazz ballad "You Don't Know What Love Is." His voice–if still that of a very young man–is throaty and melodic on the King and Hooker cuts. But it's his guitar that takes centerstage. Owing heaps to electric bluesmen B.B., Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Albert King, and Mike Bloomfield, Ford's rich tone, deliberate lines, and tuneful bends were world-class even in 1972.