Lest we forget, it was Riley "B. B." King who single-handedly hauled the blues out of oblivion and set it down in the bright lights of American life and culture. About 36 years after the hit single "The Thrill Is Gone" won over white America, King continues his longtime reign as our most treasured bluesman. Now 70, he has close to 13,000 shows in 68 countries under his belt since first hitting the chitlin' circuit as an up-and-comer riding high on the success of the early '50s R&B chart smash "Three O'Clock Blues." Blues ambassador at large, King maintains his remarkable pace of some 300 gigs year ever after; he's just crossed into Canada and will soon be visiting Japan before heading off to Europe. Don't worry, the Regal One will bring his rich singing and suspenseful single-string guitar playing to New England sometime after August. Meanwhile, let's re-examine how perfectly King's blues language meshes with his songs' rhythmic movement on the 40 or so feature CDs he has in print, including the recently reissued 1967 album Lucille (Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab). And by all means check out his new interactive CD-ROM entitled -- what else? -- On the Road with B.B. King (MCA).
-- Frank-John Hadley