What a joyride. B. B. King and Eric Clapton's collaboration Riding With The King is an album that had to be made. These two masters of the blues share pride and passion in the blues, which is evident in both their guitar playing and their singing. Clapton and King share the spotlight as comfortably as a well-broken in pair of Converse Chuck Taylor's. Their voices contrast and blend tastefully as they traverse the many faces of the blues ranging from shout, urban, rocking and roots blues on this album.
Of course the real stars of this album are the voices of Lucille, King's legendary big bad Gibson and Clapton's Statocaster. The guitarists alternately plead, bleed, and wield their favorite instruments to achieve a pinnacle of blues that few try, let alone attain. The guitar heroes also recruited top notch six string players Andy Fairweather-Low a longtime Clapton sidekick and Doyle Bramhall II to fatten the guitar sound on many of the songs.
Guitar virtuoso Jimmie Vaughn was imported to assist on my favorite song "Help the Poor" a traditional style song in which all five guitarist's nicely complement King and Clapton's classy vocal duet. Bassist Nathan East and drummer Steve Gadd provide the bottom while Joe Sample and Tim Carmon provide further rhythm support on Piano, Wurlitzer, and Hammond Organ. Backing vocals by Susannah and Wendy Melvoin provide depth and balance to complement the strong musicianship on this album.
From the rowdy opening title track to the final cut an uplifting and gentle cover of the blues standard "Come Rain or Shine", Riding With The King covers many of the miles of blues highway that King and Clapton have traveled in the decades they have performed worldwide. I am happy they gave us this album so we could join them for the ride.
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