I guess you could say that we’ve been on a bit of a hiatus since the start of this coronavirus lockdown. It’s certainly not that we haven’t been paying attention to what’s been going on in the blues world during this time, having in fact spent many hours taking in livestreams (and trying to catch up on those we weren’t able to tune into live) from blues artists all over the world, with some our favorites having come from the likes of Catfish, Robin Bibi, Dom Martin and Corey Harris across the pond to musicians from across the U.S. such as Eddie 9V, John Primer, Andrew Black, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Jimmy Burns, Kenny Neal, and Lucious Spiller, to name just a few.
Having frequently done most of the listening and writing for this blog on our train commute into and home from the office, however, we’ve come to realize that the lack of an office to which to commute has tended to put a pretty serious kibosh on our blues blogging! So while we’ve missed out on telling you about quite a few new album releases and other stories from the blues world, we hope the bit of good news we’re about to share will help make up for our absence from the scene these past few weeks, particularly for any fans of Eric Clapton and/or the late great King of the Blues himself, B.B. King (so basically everyone!)
You may recall that these two longtime friends collaborated a few years back on an album entitled Riding with the King. Believe it or not, this year already marks two decades since that gem was released, going on to sell more than two million copies in the U.S. and earning the 2000 GRAMMY Award for Best Traditional Blues Album.
To help celebrate the milestone, Reprise Records has announced a 20th anniversary edition of Riding with the King (available June 26th) that will include remastered audio of the album’s 12 original tracks in all of their glory, from blues classics like “Key to the Highway”, “Worried Life Blues”, “Come Rain or Come Shine”, “Help the Poor” and B.B.’s own “Three O’Clock Blues” and “Ten Long Years”, to the Sam & Dave hit “Hold On I’m Coming”, the John Hiatt-penned title track, and covers of Doyle Bramhall II rockers “Marry You” and “I Wanna Be”. And it’s all of course fantastic, although we have to say it sounded pretty darn good the first time around as well.
But the biggest draw here is the two previously unreleased bonus tracks, both recorded during the original sessions for the album and produced and mixed for the anniversary release by Riding with the King co-producer Simon Climie: an ambling duet of the familiar blues standard “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” and a bit more of a midtempo blues cooker in Willie Dixon’s “Let Me Love You Baby” that has B.B. digging deep vocally in a similar fashion as heard on such earlier songs as “Hold On I’m Coming”, “I Wanna Be” or “Three O’Clock Blues”.
Whether, like us, you’ve listened to this album hundreds of times over the past two decades or are just taking it for its first spin, this new anniversary edition of Riding with the King (which will be available in all formats, including as a double LP in blue or black vinyl) is one you’re going to want to make sure is in your collection, not to mention a terrific way to beat those lockdown blues!
Here’s “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” to help get you started: