B.B. King Sings Spirituals on 180g Import LP
In a recording career that has yielded to many studio albums to count only 1960's B.B. King Sings Spirituals finds the late great blues legend assaying his deepest, most fundamental roots as a musical artist. Backed by organ, piano, drums and bass, and accompanied vocally by local Los Angelean groups the Charioteers and the Southern California Community Choir, B.B. unburdens his soul in the course of some astounding testimony.
Whether he's being stately and pleading, as on "Precious Lord," or wrecking the house on "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" or "Jesus Gave Me Water," the sheer intensity of feeling in his voice and the subtlety of his phrasing cut right to the marrow of spiritual experience. His sophisticated approach to the lyric lines of "I Never Heard A Man" betrays more than a passing familiarity with Sam Cooke's rhythmic phrasing and the song's swaying arrangement sounds like the blueprint for Ray Charles's hit "(Night Time I Is) The Right Time."
And nothing in the B.B. catalogue prepares a listener for the fury and passion he unleashes vocally in scorching "Army Of The Lord" - working at the very limits of his vocal range, his voice takes on a throaty quality akin to that of the Sensational Nightingales' great lead singer Julius Cheeks. This music is timeless and instructive, doubly so when an artist of B.B. King's interpretive skill digs into the messages and brings them home to the listeners with a power even their composers could not have imagined.