B.B. King

One Kind Favor | Geffen
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  September 10, 2008
3.5 3.5 Stars
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Although this T Bone Burnett–produced disc has been hyped as a return to form, it’s more a return to format. The 83-year-old may not be able to reclaim the vigor of his ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s sides, but Burnett does evoke King’s heyday with his spare bottom-heavy arrangements, abetted by a perfect horn section and Dr. John’s elegant piano. And it’s impossible to hear King warble “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” without flashing to Johnny Cash’s late-career reflections on mortality. Other highlights include Lonnie Johnson’s “Tomorrow Night,” which gets a cabaret arrangement that allows King to wring out every bit of the song’s wistful insecurity. And for pure shake appeal, it’s hard to beat the tunes when drummers Jim Keltner and Jay Bellerose are rumbling and King is making his guitar bark and squeal. This is his best since his 2000 collaboration with Eric Clapton, Riding with the King.
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