It has long been known that B.B. King is a great admirer of Louis Jordan's work. With "Let the Good Times Roll" he has finally got around to recording a complete album of songs from Jordan's repertoire. As you would expect from a man of King's impeccable taste and judgement, the end result is of the highest order.
In contrast to King's last album, the highly acclaimed "Blues On The Bayou," he has not used his usual band. Instead, he has plumped for a band of musicians with a long and outstanding pedigree in this area. It takes a musician of King's stature and universal standing to assemble such a high caliber band which includes Dr. John, Earl Palmer, Hank Crawford, and David 'Fathead' Newman among others.
The songs essentially comprise the best, or at least most widely know Jordan's tunes--pick a Jordan tune, and you can almost guarantee that it is here. The choice also reflects King's personal favorites too: many will recognize several tunes from other King recordings or his live shows, such as "Let The Good Times Roll,", and "Caldonia."
Every song is delivered pretty much straight, rather than reinterpreted or rearranged. The end result is still recognizable as BB King, however, it is just that he is concentrating solely on someone else's songbook. And what a grand job he does of it too. As a fan of Jordan's work anyway, I find it hard to pick out a favorite track: every one of them has something to recommend it. The entertaining vocal interplay between Dr. John and BB on "Is You Is, Or Is You Ain't My Baby?" would have appealed to Jordan's sense of showmanship, however, and the intense delivery of the finale ("Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out") is especially moving.
B.B. King has something of a Midas touch, and he has worked his magic again on "Let the Good Times Roll." King-lovers will need no encouragement to buy this one; Jordan-lovers will appreciate it as a labour of love, and anyone who likes big band R&B or jump blues will enjoy it. The most impressive thing, however, is the durability of the songs. They may date back 50 or more years, yet they all still sound fresh and vibrant today. Highly recommended.
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This review is copyright © 2000 by Gordon Baxter, and