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B.B. King: Deuces Wild

Having already produced one all-star duets album myself, I know firsthand the nightmare of logistics, politics and disappointments that go down in putting such a project together. With a bevy of big name pop stars onboard, B.B. King’s Deuces Wild (MCA 11711; 61:37) must’ve been quite the exasperating endeavor. But then, folks were probably lining up to be on this record, given B.B.’s powerful cachet in the industry and in the hearts of most musicians. Yes, it’s good to be king (of the blues).

The template for this all-star outing was undoubtedly Sinatra’s Duets project of 1993. And there are some very nice moments here indeed, like Tracy Chapman’s duet with B.B. on a smoky rendition of “The Thrill Is Gone,” Willie Nelson’s sweet blend on his own melancholy opus, “Night Life,” the roughhouse rendition of Jay McShann’s “Confessin’ The Blues” with honky tonker Marty Stuart and the relaxed shuffle with Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour on “Cryin’ Won’t Help You Babe.” But there are some weak links as well. Riley B. sings his heart out on the Percy Mayfield classic, “Please Send Me Someone To Love.” Unfortunately, he’s paired on this tune with Mick Hucknall, lead singer of the pop group Simply Red. Gladys Knight would’ve been a better choice. Hell, Richard Simmons would’ve been a better choice.

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