The Right Stuff label in conjunction with Virgin Records has released a new best of series called Blues Kingpins. It seems fitting that I start the proceedings by reviewing the King of the Blues himself Mr. BB King. Made In Mississippi is a collection of the quintessential King cuts accompanied by his soul mate and guitar Ms. Lucille. Mined from the EMI vaults are 18 tracks of must have BB music that any blues lover would consider as the ultimate in blues, Memphis blues, soul and rhythm and blues.
The lead track "3 O’Clock Blues" is an appropriate nod to King’s roots in gospel while "Please Love Me" shows how performers like Chuck Berry found their inspiration then took it and ran with it to make it rock ‘n’ roll. I have said it before and will say it again, all music that we enjoy today stems from the blues and country-blues. "Please Hurry Home" with the excellent drive-it-on-home saxophone to compliment King’s stinging guitar lines is a swinging bop til’ ya drop number that never runs out of gas. You will find a lot of music on this collection with that kind of energy. I have heard plenty of BB’s music over the years but never a collection of earlier material that was as astonishingly prolific as this. There is a simplistic and honest emotional factor injected within the rhythm of every track, which makes this music so essential and timeless. On any given day listening to this CD, you will find yourself tapping your feet feeling inspired to cut a rug; I guarantee that without any misgiving.
You do not have to look too far or hear that much music, regardless of the genre or style to grasp that BB King has been a major influence on other musicians for five decades now. I am sure after he is long gone and we are too, his legacy, influence and music will continue to gather strength. It has been more than his guitar playing that has made him a household name; his distinct emotive voice gave the blues dignity and inspired rock legends such as The Rolling Stones. I cannot think of too many artists that have had such a sweeping and powerful influence on so many for so long.
This is a great collection to help you appreciate from whence BB King came from. His importance to the history and development of music is beyond what words could express. The sound on this CD is snappy and crisp, just as if he recorded it all just yesterday. Like a line in "Please Accept My Love" goes.... "If you die before I do, I will end my life to be with you." That is how I feel about music like this, why bother living if we do not have music to give us joy? It is comforting to know I will always have a piece of American culture within my grasp at all times. Live on BB! You will wear the crown of king of the blues until the end of time.
Note: A portion of the profits from the series will be donated to the Blues Foundation, a nonprofit corporation headquartered in Memphis serving as the organization for the worldwide resurgence in blues music.