B.B. King,
Shake It Up & Go
(Prism Leisure, 2005)

What can anyone say about the legendary B.B. King that hasn't already been said? The man is a blues icon with an inimitable style and sound. I can only consider myself an extremely privileged person having seen him perform with his trusty Lucille on a regular basis in the '70s at the Fillmore East. Lucille, B.B. King's gorgeous Gibson guitar, is the one woman that has never strayed from his side and the only woman he could ever deem trustworthy -- and he certainly lets you know in the way he caresses her. With Lucille, B.B. would jam with the likes of Eric Clapton, Alvin Lee, Jimmy Page and others until the wee hours of the morning to a bunch of hormonal and highly euphoric teenagers (yes, I was one of them). You could see how those performers idolized B.B. and what a tremendous influence he was (and still is) on their styles of playing.

B.B. is 80 years old and has won 14 Grammy awards, and there is no sign of retirement impending in the future for this dynamo. B.B. is unstoppable. He is constantly touring and maintains a hectic schedule that would tire out most 20 year olds. When offered the chance to review Shake It Up & Go, I naturally jumped at the chance to do so.

Shake It Up & Go is a mixture of old-fashioned "My baby left me and I'm now a traumatized insomniac" blues as well as some bluesy rock 'n' roll infusions. Songs like "The 3 O'Clock Blues" convey this mood as well as "Woke Up This Morning" in which B.B. is still pining for the woman who leaves him, but this time in a real rocking style. That kind of rocking style is enhanced with the addition of true 1950s-style saxophone in "Please Hurry Home." My favourite track is "That Ain't the Way to Do It," in which B.B. reprimands his woman for not using the proper etiquette in the neighborhood. The blues is so simple, yet so effective. There is really nothing like it.

One thing that has always filled me with wonder is the timeless, infinite appeal of the blues. We've all felt it sometime in our life. Whether it is abandonment, depression, lost love or just a rotten mood, the blues is never age-specific, gender-specific or race-specific. The blues is probably the most diverse form of music that has ever come into fruition. The riffing of notes in B.B.'s chord progressions just WAIL and we feel his tears.

Even if you have never contemplated buying a blues album, give this CD a go. It is essential music for the car or at home when doing the housework. It is forceful, sexy and moving, and if you don't start boogeying along to it, I'll eat my hat.

by Risa Duff
1 April 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.