Master Classics' Blues Anthology is an outstanding unified retrospective capturing B.B. King's early forays into ballads, big-band arrangements, and modern electric Memphis blues. Disc one contains over a dozen tracks, mainly recorded between 1949 and 1960, highlighted by "From the Bottom" by Sonny Boy Williamson & His House Rockers from 1954 with B.B. on guitar and a late-'50s take of "Everyday I Have the Blues" featuring B.B. singing with the Count Basie Orchestra. Disc two contains the full-length Sing Sing Thanksgiving DVD, a documentary of B.B.'s 1972 Thanksgiving concert at the New York State Prison. Alongside burning performances of "How Blue Can You Get," "I Got Some Help (I Don't Really Need)," and "Guess Who?," the film contains commentary from the prisoners, performances by Joan Baez and her sister Mimi Fariña, the Voices of East Harlem, and MC Jimmie "J.J." Walker, who, at the time, was the star of the TV show Good Times. While this package is highly recommended for collectors, it is essential for the novice who may only be aware of B.B.'s '90s albums: Deuces Wild, Blues on the Bayou Let the Good Times Roll: The Music of Louis Jordan, or 2000's Riding With the King with Eric Clapton. While those discs all have their moments, this material is where the legend was made.
AllMusic Review by Al Campbell
Track Listing - Disc 1