B.B. King Covers the King of Jump-Blues

B.B. King - Let the Good Times Roll
(MCA Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)

Story by Tony Bonyata

First let it be stated that the vast majority of cover or tribute compilation albums (where one or more artists reproduce someone else's material, often to less than satisfactory results) are a futile attempt at recapturing the originality of the artist being paid homage to.
That said, it must also be noted that blues giant B.B. King's latest album, Let the Good Times Roll, an album that finds King revisiting 18 numbers by 1940s jump blues king - Louis Jordan, does an impressive job at tackling this exuberant material from one of the true originals of the last century.
Bandleader, songwriter, vocalist and saxophonist Jordan was definitely one of the missing links that bridged jazz and blues to the early rock-and-roll of the '50s. Chuck Berry and Little Richard's flamboyant showmanship and songwriting styles can be traced directly back to Jordan.
Although the swinging, brassy music of Louis Jordan turned the heads of the those who shaped early rock-n-roll, it was the blues masters from the deep South, such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and B.B King, who turned on the next wave of rockers in the early '60s, such as The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds and The Animals.
Let the Good Times Roll turns out to be a fitting tribute album from one influential blues great to another, even if their styles were miles apart. On it, King lets his stinging guitar take a back seat to the rousing arrangements and his own deep, mellow voice. A glimpse of Jordan's cannon is revealed on lip-smackin' R&B numbers such as "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens", "Choo Choo Ch-Boogie", "Saturday Night Fish Fry" and "Is You Is, Or Is You Ain't (My Baby)", in which Dr. John stir in some of his own gumbo to the pot with his swampy vocals and spicy piano stylings.
Even more fitting are King's covers of Jordan's bluesier numbers such as "Buzz Me", "Knock Me A Kiss", "I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town" and "Somebody Changed The Lock On My Door", which features a short, sweet guitar solo from the blues master.
Although vocally lacking the verve of Jordan on his signature number "Caldonia" King more than makes up for it on the title track as he belts out in a deep, boom, "I don't care if you're young or old, get together and let the good times roll!"
While Louis Jordan's houserockin' style of jump-blues is unrivaled, King's tribute holds up quite well on its own.

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