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Solid collection of B.B. collaborations
H. Jin | Melbourne, Australia | 09/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"'Lucille and Friends' is an album of duets and collaborations B.B. has had over the years. The collection is varied; collaborators range from fellow blues travellers to modern rock, pop and jazz artists, with a mixture of both blues standards and original songs. Several tracks such as 'Frosty' have been around for years, but there are a couple of more recent pairings such as U2's 'When Love Comes To Town'. The album does a great job of showcasing B.B.'s ability to adapt to a wide range of musical styles, and an even wider range of artists.
In general, I think the best tracks are the genuine duets: 'When Love Comes To Town' (U2), 'Playing With My Friends' (Robert Cray), 'You Shook Me' (John Lee Hooker), 'Spirit In The Dark' (Diane Schur), 'Since I Met You Baby' (Gary Moore), 'Better Not Look Down' (The Crusaders), and a raucous live performance of 'Let The Good Times Roll' (Bobby Bland). The presence of these artists on vocals gives each of these songs a unique feel and mood, from Hooker's raw blues to U2's anthemic rock, to The Crusaders' jazz-pop.
In contrast, the other tracks where the guest artist only contributes instrumentally are perhaps more suited for die-hard fans; the sort of people who would say "Hey, that's Vernon Reid's guitar! It's Ringo playing those drums!" They're not weak tracks by any means, and 'To Know You Is To Love You', 'Hummingbird' and 'Ghetto Woman' are some of the album's highlights. They just feel a bit less like genuine collaborations. I also feel that 'B.B's Blues' bogs the album down a bit, and is not quite interesting enough to justify its long running time.
Still, it's about as good a collection of B.B. and friends as you can get. It should certainly fulfill its aim of introducing B.B. to a wider audience, while also being a useful chronicle for die-hard fans. It's also a great place to start for those who think "Blues" consists of nothing but morbid two-chord stomps. Such people should be pleasantly surprised by the variety on display here.