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B.B. King: Let the Good Times Roll

In a way, B.B. King has been paying tribute to Louis Jordan all throughout his fabulous and lengthy career. On Let the Good Times Roll (MCA 088 112 042-2; 60:28), the king of the blues trots out an entire program of upbeat songs associated with “Mr. Personality.” A dream band including guitarist Russell Malone, drummer Earl Palmer, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, saxophonists Hank Crawford and David “Fathead” Newman, and Dr. John on piano lends layers of depth and soul to the proceedings. Crawford stretches majestically on “Early in the Morning,” “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town” and two jump blues vehicles, “It’s a Great, Great Pleasure” and “Sure Had a Wonderful Time Last Night.” Aside from his signature N’awlins-flavored ivory tickling on every number, most prominently displayed on a sanctified “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” Dr. John also engages in some raspy-throated, tongue-in-cheek repartee with B.B. on “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby.” And B.B., who sings and plays superbly throughout, delivers particularly inspired, deep blue renditions of “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town” and “Rusty Dusty Blues.” His spry versions of “Beware, Brother, Beware,” “Jack, You’re Dead” and “Saturday Night Fish Fry” capture the raucous, ebullient spirit of those Jordan jive classics. Let the Good Times Roll is a moving, heartfelt tribute by one great man to another.

Originally Published