Entertainment Weekly - No. 840, p.88
"...King seems less an archetypal grizzled bluesman than a wise old Zen master, at peace with the world and himself. That doesn't mean he can't still sing and play some mean blues...." - Grade: B+
Personnel: B.B. King (vocals, guitar); Glenn Frey, John Mayer , Billy Gibbons (vocals, guitar); Van Morrison (vocals, harmonica); Elton John (vocals, piano); Daryl Hall, Gloria Estefan, Roger Daltrey, Sheryl Crow, Bobby "Blue" Bland (vocals); Davey Johnstone , Dean Parks, Eric Clapton, Larry Campbell, Mark Knopfler, Clem Clemson (guitar); Brandon Fields (saxophone); Gary Grant, Jerry Hey (trumpet); William Frank "Bill" Reichenbach Jr. (trombone); Luke Smith (Hammond b-3 organ); Chris Stainton, Guy Babylon , Robbie Buchanan, Brian Mitchell (keyboards); Leland Sklar, Bob Birch (electric bass); T-Bone Wolk, Yolanda Charles (bass guitar); Nigel Olsson, Russ Kunkel, Ian Thomas , Billy Ward (drums); John Mahon (percussion).
Although star-studded duet albums are often a mixed bag, when executed with appropriate collaborators and material the results can be impressive. Such is the case with many tracks on B.B. King's 80, which celebrates the blues legend's birthday with panache and, of course, a slew of high-profile guests. The 2005 album begins with "Early in the Morning," a pitch-perfect mid-tempo number performed with Van Morrison, and continues in finest form when it features other performers fluent in the blues, including Eric Clapton (a Hammond-tinged take on "The Thrill Is Gone"), Mark Knopfler (the simmering "All Over Again"), and King's longtime friend and peer Bobby "Blue" Bland (the intimate, conversational "Funny How Times Slip Away"). On every tune, King commands his guitar (the beloved "Lucille") better than performers a fraction of his age, and his weathered voice only adds to the record's charm.