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Music Review: Eric Clapton and B.B. King – Riding With The King

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Eric Clapton plus B.B. King equaled an outstanding blues album. Many people agreed with that assessment as Riding With The King reached double platinum status in sales and won a Grammy award for Best Traditional Blues Album.

Clapton has been a guest on countless albums down through the years, but here he formed a partnership with one of the great blues legends. They make an interesting and effective combination as King’s Delta Blues style meshes well with Clapton’s contemporary rock/blues fusion foundation.

Clapton assembled a nice tight band to provide support. Andy Fairweather-Low and Jimmie Vaughan are on board as basically rhythm guitarists and they lay down a nice foundation. The musical key is pianist Joe Sample who really pushes the music along which allows King and Clapton to take off on their solo excursions.

Both musicians have always been able to produce a crystal clear sound and accentuate each note. They both are also able to take a song and transform it so it travels in new and unexpected directions.

Three of B.B. Kings early compositions are resurrected for this album. 1951’s “Three O’Clock Blues,” 1954’s “When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer," and 1955’s “Ten Long Years” are vehicles for them to trade a number of tasty solos and vocals.

Other highlights include a wonderful acoustic version of Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key To The Highway” and a blues rendition of the Sam & Dave hit “Hold On! I’m Coming” which includes some of the best guitar lines on the album.

This album was one of those ideas that sounded great and actually worked. It is the second of an excellent trio of blues albums that Clapton would produce and matches well with 1994’s From The Cradle and 2004’s Me and Mr. Johnson. Fans of B.B. King, Eric Clapton, the blues, and good music should all be pleased with this release. Riding With The King is a journey down a highway which is not traveled very often.

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