B.B. King

Paying the Cost to Be the Boss

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PAYING THE COST mixes live and studio cuts that span from the '50s through the '70s, and though the sequencing seems a little haphazard, it's all good stuff. King stretches out on a live version of "The Thrill Is Gone," and sings with burning conviction on the live slow blues "The Letter," reminding you that he's as passionate a vocalist as he is a guitar player. "Everyday I Have the Blues," King's theme song, finds B. setting aside his guitar to sing over an exact reading of the hit Count Basie/Joe Williams big band arrangement of 1955. "It's My Own Fault," and "You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now," later recorded on LIVE AT THE REGAL, and the jump blues "B.B. Boogie" find King's axe laced with reverb as he reveals his debt to idol T-Bone Walker. Though it would be nice to have information on band personnel, recording dates, and venues, the quality of the material here more than makes up for that oversight. Live or studio, this is all top-drawer material. Cool trivia moment: "Catfish Blues," B.B.'s take on Muddy Waters' "Rollin' Stone."

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