Monday, January 16, 2012

Blues Books: The B.B. King Treasures

Book Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Bulfinch (September 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0821257242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821257241
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.3 x 11.2 inches

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While true blues lovers may scoff at the opulence of such a coffee-table volume, they may change their minds when they discover the treat this work has tucked under its front cover: an hour-long audio CD of conversations with the "Chairman of the Board" of blues, B.B. King (b. 1925). The book itself is a stylishly packaged retelling of King's life from Mississippi sharecropping cabin dweller to White House honoree, with King's reminiscences intercut with comments from his friends. In addition to pages of gorgeously reproduced photos, eight parchment sleeves hold facsimiles of King memorabilia: first, his sharecropping account from 1940, and then mostly tickets, programs and posters for his shows. Still, the real "treasure" is the CD: 16 tracks of King talking about how and why he makes music, sometimes accompanied by riffs on Lucille (his guitar), plus two previously unreleased recordings. King gives a bluesman's take on race relations in the 20th century: how white radio stations started playing black music and how British stars (the Beatles, the Stones, Clapton, etc.) revived the careers of black bluesmen and then how white "folkies" picked up on the music, too. This will be a tasty gift for any blues fan. 116 illus. (Sept. 16)Correction: The agent for Robert Oxnam's A Fractured Mind (Reviews, Aug. 8) is Wendy Strothman.

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From Booklist

The King of the Blues turns 80 on September 16: cause for celebration, indeed. Already, on February 15, 2005, Mississippi honored its world-famous son in a ceremony at the state capitol. Now comes this spectacular oral-history-cum-scrapbook that should draw browsers as if it were the cure for the common cold. It is certainly good for what ails you, what with its scads of great photos and blues-biz paraphernalia (posters, record labels, etc.) reproductions, its immaculately proofread text, its high production values (heavy stock, visually textured pages in several colors, clean layout), and its--libraries, beware!--removable bonus attractions (CD of interview outtakes and previously unreleased old recordings, eight translucent envelopes containing excellent reproductions of such memorabilia as a portrait-postcard a teenage King sent a girlfriend, backstage passes, business cards, booking sheets, concert handouts, etc.). On top of all that, it's an interesting read, especially about King's early life and pre-stardom career. If there are a few tangential errors (blues organist Mark Naftalin's father was mayor of Minneapolis, not Milwaukee), who cares? Ray Olson
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