In honor of his 80th birthday B.B. King released a new album of duets last week, titled “80.” For the new album, King got together with some of music’s biggest stars, including Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, Roger Daltrey, Elton John and more. The songs recorded for “80” range from well-loved standards like “The Thrill is Gone” to lesser known tunes, such as “Hummingbird.”
B.B. King also paired with Van Morrison and Eric Clapton on the album “Deuces Wild”, which came out in 1997. That album featured B.B teaming up with artists representing a variety of music genres, including Bonnie Rait, the Rolling Stones and rapper Heavy D (that song is, uh… interesting). The song “If You Love Me,” written and sung by Van Morrison is a treat, and I always enjoy B.B. and Bonnie Rait’s rendition of “Baby I Love You.”
But my favorite by far of B.B. King’s duets albums is the 1993 album “Blues Summit,” where B.B. was joined by blues and jazz stars to sing blues classics. Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Etta James and Koko Taylor are some of the greats featured on “Blues Summit.” I crack up listening to Ruth Brown and B.B. tease one another in the song “You’re the Boss,” and delight in the incredible guitar playing in B.B.’s duet with Albert Collins, “Call it Stormy Monday.” Finally, the tune “We’re Gonna Make It,” B.B.’s duet with Irma Thomas, is both sweet and cheerful. But I’m a little biased towards that one – it was the song my husband and I danced to at our wedding.