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4.5 out of 5 stars103
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 10 May 2003
B.B. and Eric. Lucille and ... no, not Blacky, who was retired in 1985, but at least Blacky's little brother(s). Two guitar gods , with a combined 80 years of recording experience. Immesurable amounts of talent, from the two "big guys" down to every single one of the other participants in this project. And - dare one say it, given that this is supposed to be a blues album? - loads of fun, on top of all that!
Let's get things straight, musically this is a long way from Cook County Jail and from either man's Cradle, not to mention Layla and other assorted painful love affairs. There is no sense here of "rather [wanting to be] dead than to be here so alone and blue" (B.B. King, "Worry Worry"), of the loneliness at the chiming of the midnight hour (B.B. King, "Blues at Midnight"), or of crawling on the floor like the worst loser in the world begging her to take you back (Eric Clapton, "Bell Bottom Blues"). Sure, the album includes B.B. King's "Ten Long Years," "Three O'Clock Blues" and "When My Heart Beats Like a Hammer" and Maceo Merriweather's "Worried Life Blues" - and yes, these songs do strike a number of blue notes, in their lyrics as well as in King's growling vocals and their mournful, reflective guitar solos. But overall, a relaxed and at times even upbeat feeling dominates this release; and you can hear how much fun every musician involved in the project had in recording it. And further proof is provided by the photos of a broadly smiling Eric Clapton and B.B. King featured on the CD's front cover and in its slim booklet.P>The album opens with John Hiatt's "Riding With the King," the CD's title track and obvious motto, whose lyrics ("I stepped out of Mississippi when I was ten years old, with a suit cut sharp as a razor and a heart made of gold; I had a guitar hanging just about waist high, and I'm gonna play this thing until the day I die") could have been written specifically with Mississippi-born B.B. King in mind. The song's upbeat mood is resumed most strongly in William Broonzy and Charles Seger's "Key to the Highway" which, beginning with Eric Clapton/Derek and the Domino's "Layla" album all the way to this one, seems to turn into a different kind of jam session with whomever Clapton chooses to record it; as well as in Hayes/Porter's "Hold On I'm Coming" and the closing track, Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen's classic "Come Rain and Come Shine." In the latter, Eric Clapton and B.B. King thus give a classy blues twist to a song which by now has probably been recorded by virtually every artist of note and nevertheless sounds different every single time
The blending of classics like the aforementioned ones with more recent songs like Doyle Bramhall II's "Marry You" and "I Wanna Be" (both vastly improved in the treatment they receive here) further adds to the album's variety; and the gang really gets going with King's "Days of Old," which has rarely ever sounded like so much fun. As befits any good blue album and particularly one by artists as distinguished as these, the vast majority of what you hear is recorded live, with little to no overdub at all. Joe Sample's fluid piano notes accentuate and frame Clapton and King's vocals and guitar solos in just the right manner on more than one track, and while the CD does also feature some drum programming (by Paul Waller), this is much less obvious than on the decidedly less bluesy "Reptile."
In the album's liner notes, Eric Clapton and B.B. King credit each other as "a true genius" (King about Clapton) and "my hero" (Clapton about King), and express that recording an album together has been a long-standing dream of both of them. The product of that cooperation is one infectuous CD; and after their long and distinguished careers, it is great to see (and hear) how much fun they can still have doing what they do best.
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on 14 December 2004
What a great contrasting sound and style on this album, as BB and Clapton complement each other.
"Key to the Highway" swings along in country blues call & answer style and what about the soul standard of "Hold on I'm comin"?
The first time you listen to this, because of its low key start, takes you by surprise when the penny drops and you're listening to a classic being driven like a steam hammer.
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on 15 August 2012
If Jimi Hendrix had lived would he have become as boring as Eric Clapton sometimes is? Probably not. But Clapton, more than most, seems to need someone to push him, otherwise he lapses into tedious, lazy, chug-a-long blues, eg. Derek and the Dominoes. Obviously Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker could fire him up, as could the great Delaney and Bonnie band of the late '60s, but there has been far too much forgettable easy (or, for fans of the incomparable 'Beano' album, painful) listening since then. In steps B.B.King, and Eric starts trying again, probably as a mark of respect to the great man. This is wonderful - essential listening.
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on 9 June 2002
The reason many people love the music of BB.King and Eric Clapton is the amazing feeling they get into their music thorugh their playing and vocals. For any fan this book is a must. Every tune is expertly transcribed, clearly laid out in both musical and TAB forms, making it very easy for you to play with the correct timing (sometimes very difficult with reading Blues tabs). Includes all the great songs from the hit album, including Key to the Highway, Days of old and of course, Riding with the King! A must for any fan, or player who wants to broaden their repetoire!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 September 2013
'Riding with the King' is part a joyful dusting down of some old blues classics for modern ears and part an efficiently put together, but still fun commercial, rock album. Either way, it works. The performances of Clapton and King are passionate and considerate of each other. They solo beautifully, pushing each other on, to some very fiery playing indeed. Clapton displays more power and drive then we have come to expect while BB as always is never short of a sinuous lick or two, plays tastily throughout. Vocally both principles are unsurprisingly a little frayed but the overall effect adds more passion and authenticity to the overall performances.

So while 'Riding with the King' is by no means in any sense ground breaking it is definitely a very enjoyable disc. Add a solid song selection, sympathetic production and a great backing band to the inspired performances of the headliners you have what is a great listening experience. Doubters should listen to the crunching takes of 'Riding with the King' and 'Hold on I'm Coming'. Guitar players should weep in gratitude at the blues master class that is 'Three O'clock Blues' and the rocking 'Days Of Old'. Buy. You won't regret it!
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on 5 December 2013
What a waste of money !
Completely soulless production that does not flatter neither King nor the "slow-hand".
The album is over-produced and sterile which shows clearly on the vinyl.
Don't fall for the "180gr audiophile" stamp as I did.
If you really have to purchase it then go for the cd which at least is cheaper.
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on 23 June 2000
Very nice to see Clapton recording something other than m.o.r. again. The voices of both have seen better days though BB can still kick - start a lyric. The guitar playing is as expected - clear, original, ringing phrases and some sinuous meanderings (though where are they going at the beginning of Hold On ?).Definitely worth the effort. If it puts Clapton back on a decent path, it gets my vote.
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on 3 July 2000
Both BB and Eric say that they've been meaning to do an album together for a long time, maybe they have, but this album is very much a case of two similar colours that don't work together. It is a clash of styles rather than a melding and the whole adds up to less than the sum of the parts. Any song on the album would benefit from the absence of one of the artists.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 August 2007
This is somewhere between 3 & 4 stars for me, it has some great moments, but overall doesn't quite add up to the sum of its parts.

The good first:
There is some lovely blues on here and its all well played by Clapton and King with a supporting cast of top notch musicians. These includes Steve Gadd, Joe Sample, Nathan East, Jimmie Vaughan and Andy Fairweather Low. The best tracks are the two semi-acoustic tracks 'Key to the Highway' and 'Worried life Blues' and the romping 'Days Of Old'. This track in particular is reminisant of some B B Kings swinging earlier material. A great track.

The not so good:
For my taste, with exception of about five tracks, its a little over-produced. For what is a essentially a blues album its all just a little to clinical for me, and reading the credits for the tracks you will find that on 10 of the 12 Paul Waller is credited with 'Drum programming'. Now that I just don't understand. I have no doubt that Paul Waller is a talented man (you have to be to work in this company) but why do you need a 'drum programmer' (whatever that is) when you have Steve Gadd anyway?

So overall this is a good album, certainly worth getting, but there are better blues albums out there.
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on 17 June 2000
To get straight to the point this is class on a CD. You have the speed and electric fingering of Clapton and the style and finesse of B.B. King which combine to make an album that rings in your ears until your forced to put it back on again to sample the quality of those classic blues guitar solo's and just when you think it's over B.B King takes over..... If you want to feel the passion behind the blues then this is a must have addition to your collection.
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