Entertainment Weekly - 12/11/92, p.66
"...a near perfect collection...The best work of a legendary artist, respectfully distilled into one lengthy, joyous listening experience...Absolutely first-rate..." - Rating: A
Q - 1/93, p.954 Stars
- Excellent - "...It's all here--the entire life's work of the music's foremost ambassador, a man who, while he may not appear as driven as the great stylists of the post-War blues boom, is nonetheless its foremost gentleman and player..."
Musician - 1/93, p.88
"...What's most striking about this chronology is not Mr. B.B.'s longevity or output, but his growth and consistency, moving easily through soul, funk, rock and jazz without compromising the essential core truth in his blues, remaining contemporary from generation to generation..."
Living Blues - Jan/Feb 93, p.52
"...does striking justice to King's remarkable royal tenure...sound quality is stunning throughout the entire box, spotlighting every nuance of King's remarkable guitar technique and patented crying vocal style..."
Village Voice (3/2/93, p.5) - Ranked #6
in the Village Voice's list of the 10 Best Reissues Of 1992.
Personnel includes: B.B. King (vocals, guitar, piano); Bobby Bland, Bonnie Raitt (vocals); Hugh McCracken, Joe Walsh, Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack, Ray Parker, Jr., Dean Parks, Bobby Caldwell (guitar); Ernie Watts, Hank Crawford (alto saxophone); Bobby Forte, David "Fathead" Newman (tenor saxophone); Ronald Cuber (baritone saxophone); Ben Webster (saxophone); Carole King, Gary Wright (electric piano); Johnny Ace, Al Kooper, Leon Russell (piano); Stevie Wonder (keyboards); Red Callender, Brian Garofalo (bass); Sonny Freeman, Russ Kunkel, Ringo Starr, Jim Keltner, Wil Calhoun (drums); Paulinho Da Costa (percussion); Merry Clayton (background vocals).
U2: Bono (vocals); The Edge (guitar); Adam Clayton (bass); Larry Mullen (drums).
The Crusaders: Wilton Felder (guitar); Joe Sample (keyboards); Stix Hooper (drums).
The Memphis Horns: Andrew Love, Wayne Jackson (horns).
Digitally remastered by Erick Labson (MCA Studios, No. Hollywood, California).
Personnel: B.B. King (vocals, guitar); Gary Moore, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Bonnie Raitt, Bono (vocals); The Edge (guitar, keyboards); Cornell Dupree, Thek Edge, David Spinozza, Dean Parks, Bobby Cadwell, Johnny Jones , Julio Ferrer, Hugh McCracken, Irving Ashby, Milton Hopkins, Jesse Daniels, Eli Tartarsky, Leonard Gill, Jesse Ed Davis , Joe Walsh , John Uribe, Jon Tiven, Al Hendrickson, Lee Ritenour , Mac Rebennack, Michael Landau, Norman Harris, Ray Parker, Jr., Roland Chambers, Sally Tiven, Arthur Adams , Steve Watson , Billy Butler, Calvin Newborn (guitar); Fred Jackson, Jr. (flute, tenor saxophone); Jewell L. Grant, Earl Turbinton, Lawrence Burdine (saxophone, alto saxophone); Louis Hubert, Bobby Forte (saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Johnny Board (saxophone, tenor saxophone); Quitman Dennis (saxophone, horns); David McMurray, Don Wilkerson, Larry Williams , Lee Gatling, Bumps Myers, Brother Gene Dinwiddie, Mahlon Clark, Fred Ford, Harold Austin, Trevor Lawrence, Ben Branch, Ben Webster, Bill Hood, Bobby Keys (saxophone); David Sanborn, Ernie Watts, Howard E. Johnson , Cato Walker, George Coleman, Hank Crawford, William Green (alto saxophone); Herb Hardesty (tenor saxophone, trumpet); Maxwell Davis (tenor saxophone, organ); Bill Havey, Vernon Slater , David "Fathead" Newman , Hilton Joseph, Adolph Duncan, Richard Sanders, Jimmy Forrest, Red Holloway, Arnett Cobb, Wilton Felder, Bill Harvey (tenor saxophone); Floyd Turnham, James Walker , Barney Hubert, Eddie Saxman Synigal, Jerome Richardson, Kim Hutchcroft, Ronnie Cuber (baritone saxophone); Jim Price (trumpet, trombone, electric piano); Steve Madaio (trumpet, horns); Waymon Reed, Conte Candoli, Tom Branch, John Willie Cook, Ernie Royal, Ken Sands, Edward Rowe, Lonny Lalanne, Carl Adams , Gary Grant, Henry Boozier, Hobart Dotson, Jake "Vernon" Porter, James Bolden, Jerry Hey, Al Porcino, Oscar Brashear, Patrick Williams, Ray Linn, Snooky Young, Woody Shaw, Al Aarons, John Browning , Bobby Bryant , Roy Poper, Calvin Owens, Charlie Miller (trumpet); Dick Noel, Steve Sherard, Garnett Brown, Charles Fendley, Sammie Jett, Tommy Pedersen, Joseph Burton, Jimmy Henderson , Juan Tizol, Pluma Davis, Tom "Bones" Malone, Benny Powell, Tommy Pederson , Jack Redmond, Lloyd Ulyate (trombone); George Bohannon, Nick Pentelow, Nicky Payne, Gary Herbig, Kurt McGettrick, Andrew Love, The Memphis Horns, Wayne Jackson, Chuck Finley, Martin Drover, Frank Mead (horns); Paul Harris , Willie "Big Eyes" Smith (piano, organ); Joe Sample (piano, keyboards); John Hobbs, Ron Levy (piano, synthesizer); Charles Brooks, Doctor Ragavoy, Dan Willard, Millard Lee, Sonny Burke , Jimmy Rowles, Joe Zagarino, Johnny Ace , Al Kooper, Leon Russell, Lloyd Glenn, Phineas Newborn, Jr., Robert Anderson, Frank Owens (piano); Gary Wright, Carole King (electric piano); Charles Bowles, James Toney, Duke Jethro, Ronnie Barron (organ); Dave Crawford , Charles Mann (keyboards, background vocals); Dr. John, Phil Blackman, Neil Larsen, Ron Kersey, Stevie Wonder, Tommy Eyre, Paul Griffin (keyboards); Randy Kerber (synthesizer, bass synthesizer); Jim Cook, Lawrence Dermer (synthesizer); Paul Mullen , Warren Chiasson (vibraphone); Victor Feldman (electric bass); Stix Hooper (drums, percussion); Ted Curry, Calep Emphrey, Earl Forest, Earl Young, Ed Greene, Phineas Newborn, Sr., Bob Morin, Harold Potier, Graham Walker, Jackie Mills, James Gadson, Jim Gordon , Jim Keltner, John Starks, Kenny Aronoff , Larry Mullen, Jr., Luther Dixon, Oliver Jackson, Anton Fig, Ringo Starr, Russ Kunkel, Will Calhoun, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, Herb Lovelle, Jesse Sailes, Sonny Freeman (drums); Earl Nash, Larry Washington, Eddie "Bongo" Brown (congas); Marcus Barnett, Lenny Castro, Nan Vasconcelos, Paulinho Da Costa, Debra Dobkin (percussion); Cindy Mizelle, Luther Waters, Valerie Pinkston-Mayo, Phyllis Duncan, Rebecca Evans Russell, Helen Duncan, Julia Tillman Waters, Rebecca Russel, Paulette Brown, Joshie Armstead, Linda Taylor, Lisa Fisher, Maxine Willard Waters, Oren Waters, Carol Kenyon, Tasha Thomas, Bunny Hull, Carl Hall (background vocals).
Audio Remixers: Ron Jacobs ; Louis Silas, Jr.; Shelly Yakus; Bill Inglot.
Liner Note Authors: Colin Escott; B.B. King.
Recording information: H (05/1949-12/1991); Hollywood, CA (05/1949-12/1991); Houston, TX (05/1949-12/1991); Los Angeles, CA (05/1949-12/1991); Memphis Recording Service, Memphis, TN (05/1949-12/1991); Miami, FL (05/1949-12/1991); New York, NY (05/1949-12/1991); Regal Theatre, Chicago, IL (05/1949-12/1991); Village Gate, New York, NY (05/1949-12/1991); WDIA Studio "A", Memphis, TN (05/1949-12/1991); YMCA, Memphis, TN (05/1949-12/1991).
Director: Calvin Owens.
Photographer: Geary Chansley.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Nick Pentelow; Duke Ellington Orchestra; Nicky Payne; Fred Ford; Sammie Jett; Adam Clayton; Ben Branch; Gary Moore; Martin Drover; Bobby "Blue" Bland; Bonnie Raitt; Frank Mead.
Arrangers: Dave Crawford ; Edward Rowe; Ira Newborn; Johnny Pate; Maxwell Davis; B.B. King.
This 4-CD box set contains 7 previously unreleased tracks and 12 rarities. KING OF THE BLUES begins with B.B.'s first-ever recording, 1949's "Miss Martha King," and culminates 40 years later with 1991's "Since I Met You Baby," a duet with Gary Moore. Also included is a 72-page booklet with photos, a complete discography, comprehensive liner notes by Colin Escott and first-person commentary by King on his life and music.
Disc 1 features King's earliest Memphis work, where he began his career as a disc jockey, then progresses to a selection of music he recorded for the Bihari brothers (Kent, Modern and RPM labels), and concludes with recordings made for ABC Records. On this disc you can hear King's guitar playing gradually evolve, moving from his roots in Charlie Christian and T-Bone Walker, into the sweet, sensual, concise melodic style which became his trademark.
Disc 2 chronicles King's rise to blues stardom, while Disc 3 shows him crossing over to reach the rock and pop audience. "The Thrill Is Gone" (his breakthrough single) set the standard for King's collaborations with rock and jazz royalty that make up much of Discs 3 and 4. No matter what the setting was, no matter who the collaborators were, B.B. King has always maintained his sound, his style and his focus.