The Bottom Line
Guitar great B.B. King is, perhaps, the best-know ambassador of the blues, bringing the music to audiences worldwide a couple hundred nights a year for decades. Loved for his melodious voice and rich, jazz-influenced guitar tone, King is destined to go down in history as one of America's greatest musical talents, regardless of genre. What is generally overlooked, however, are King's skills as a songwriter and arranger. True, he doesn't write a lot of material, but when he does, it usually ends up as pure gold.
- Includes material from across King's lengthy career
- Song selection is a little thin for $17.99 cover price
- 24-song collection includes many of King's best-loved tunes
- 96 pages, 9" x 12" trade paperback songbook
- Displays King's often overlooked songwriting talent
Guide Review - B.B. King - The Best of B.B. King (2010)
While some may debate blues guitar great B.B. King's place in any list of the "best" guitarists, there is no argument that he is probably the best-known instrumentalists in the history of blues music. One of a handful of blues artists signed to (and actively promoted by) a major record label, King enjoys a certain elder statesman status that is supported by moderate record sales (King's 2008 album One Kind Favor charted in the Top 40 and earned the guitarist his 15th Grammy Award).
Because of King's immense popularity even among music fans that don't particularly like blues music, there are a slew of songbooks available for aspiring guitarists to learn King's music. Although a little pricey when compared to similar tomes, Hal Leonard's The Best of B.B. King offers up notation and tab for piano and guitar for two-dozen of King's best-known and loved songs.
While King's guitar rightfully receives the lion's share of acclaim, his songwriting chops are typically overlooked. The Best of B.B. King helps shore up his reputation as a musical craftsman, offering such great King-written (or co-written) songs like "Be Careful With A Fool," the humorous "Nobody Loves Me But My Mother,""Sweet Sixteen," "Rock Me Baby," "Why I Sing The Blues," and "Paying The Cost To Be The Boss."
King is also an extraordinary arranger of other people's songs, and some of his greatest musical triumphs have come from songs like "The Thrill Is Gone," "Everyday I Have The Blues," and "How Blue Can You Get," all of which King made his own with stellar performances. King's work on songs like John Hiatt's "Riding With The King" (from the album of the same name with Eric Clapton) or Leon Russell's "Hummingbird" often overshadows the artist's original versions.
If you want to learn to play guitar, or even write songs like the master, The Best of B.B. King is where you'd start. (Hal Leonard Corp, published March 1, 2010)
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