The two-disc GOLD compilation series does its usual superb job with B.B. KING--GOLD. Summing up the blues icon's sprawling, decades-spanning catalogue is no easy task, and the good folks at Geffen deserve all the more credit for pulling together this fine representative sampling. Arranged chronologically, GOLD limits its scope somewhat by beginning with the early 1960s (King began recording in 1949) and stopping in 1999 (though there is ample opportunity for selections on either side of those demarcations).
But whether it's the classy, soulful "How Blue Can You Get?"; the smoking, horn-driven "The Thrill Is Gone"; or his collaboration with U2 on "When Love Comes to Town," what stands out is King's passionate singing and the crying brilliance of his six-string wizardry. GOLD includes many of King's best known tunes ("Lucille" and "Every Day I Have the Blues," for example), but there are enough lesser-known gems among the 34 tracks to give a richly detailed portrait of this genre-defining genius. Neither overwhelming nor too-skimpy, GOLD bests most King compilations on the market.