Friday, December 20, 2019

#14 B.B. King (+ my favorite old songs of 2019)

Blues great B.B. King checks in at #14 on the checklist for 1991 Pro Set MusiCards Super Stars. That's the type of image that pops in your head when you think of B.B. King, so can't really complain about that, though (as with many of the cards) the picture might be a little cramped by the design.

Hey, it's the first instance in the set where the back picture isn't a secondary photo but rather a logo/wordmark. There will be a decent number of these as we make our way through the set. Running a Google image search for "b.b. king logo" doesn't show this one in the results that I could find, so I'm not sure if it's an official thing or just something worked up by the team at Pro Set. Regardless, it's pretty cool looking.

In addition to this card, Mr. King pops up again at card #253 in the Historic Concerts subset.

B.B. King. "The Thrill Is Gone" (live)

I've never been a huge fan of the blues. I don't hate it, but it's too "samey" for me to listen to too much of it before tiring of the predictable chord changes and whatnot. But that said, I've got nothing but respect for the legendary B.B. King. "The Thrill Is Gone" is the only specific song of his that I could name off the top of my head, however. I recently also listened to his record with Eric Clapton (which I checked out back when we were covering Clapton near the start of this blog) called Riding with the King which is really good.

B.B. kept frequently performing well into old age, passing away in 2015 at age 89. I remember hearing that his shows in his final years were often pretty bad, but I suppose you need to adjust your expectations accordingly when you're going to see a performance from a guy in his late 80s.


In the previous post, I listed a few new/recent songs I've been digging in 2019. Now I'm going to share some older songs that've been in heavy rotation for me this past year.

Bob Welch - Sentimental Lady
A few months ago, the name Bob Welch was known to me only as the pitcher who won the AL Cy in 1990 with 27 wins for Oakland. But turns out there was a popular musician who shared that name. This Bob Welch (Robert Lawrence Welch Jr.) was a member of Fleetwood Mac for a while in the early 70s and helped guide them towards the breakout success they'd achieve later in the decade. He also had some solo hits, with "Sentimental Lady" being the one that I've been into lately. I'm kinda embarrassed to admit that I was introduced to the song thanks to it being prominently featured in a recent episode of Family Guy. I heard it on the show and was like, wow, how have I not heard this song before? I was obsessed with it for weeks, one day listening to it probably over 20 times in one day, no joke! There are a couple different versions of the song, a 1972 Fleetwood Mac version and a shorter 1977 solo version. My preference is the latter version with the more-prominent Christine McVie "all I need is you" backing vocals. Facing serious medical issues in 2012, Bob took his fate into his own hands at age 66 rather than push through a few more years living in debilitating pain, which is sad but can't say I blame him. This gorgeous song of his lives on.

Jay Ferguson - Thunder Island
Dr. Hook - Sharing The Night Together
Like with "Sentimental Lady" these are a couple more songs that fit under the umbrella that is known today as "yacht rock". I know some folks don't like the term (sorry, Night Owl), but it's basically just a shorter way of saying "soft rock from the mid 70s through mid 80s". It's a genre I'm a big fan of, recalling the "easy listening" hits on the radio when I was a kid riding in the car with my mom. "Thunder Island" is another track I have Family Guy to thank for introducing me to. Not sure who on their writing staff is making it their mission to bring attention to these lesser-known smooth gems of the past, but hats off to them! "Sharing The Night Together" is a song I was familiar with, but hadn't heard in a long time until it was featured in the recent Breaking Bad movie El Camino. It's a great song and a peaceful scene in an otherwise tense film.

Phil Collins - Colours
Genesis - Misunderstanding
I had a bit of a Phil Collins/Genesis revival this year, though I suppose I never really stopped listening to him since the 80s. Surprisingly, neither Phil Collins nor Genesis has a card in the MusiCards set despite being big names at the time, so I'll have to be sure to feature each in upcoming Custom Corners. I had ...But Seriously (1989) on cassette back in the day and liked most of the songs a lot. The track that's stuck with me the most is "Colours" which is actually a couple different songs in one, with a mellow keyboard intro giving way to an anti-apartheid rock song with big horns and big drums. With the total length clocking in at nearly 9 minutes, it didn't get much radio play and was never much of a hit, but it's an all-time favorite of mine. "Misunderstanding" is an older Genesis song (1980) that had evaded me until earlier this year when noted cardblog reader (and Collins/Genesis fan) Mr. Haverkamp asked if I could make a custom card for him using images from the song's music video. It's a neat a song. Reached #1 in Canada, but not as big of a hit in the US.

B-52s - Follow Your Bliss
Teenage Fanclub - Is This Music?
Here's a pair of instrumentals from a couple bands that were active at the time of the MusiCards set (though neither got a card) and are still around today. "Follow Your Bliss" is a dreamy track that closes 1989's Cosmic Thing, a pretty darn good record that these days is mostly just remembered for "Love Shack". And another album-ending instrumental, "Is This Music?" came out in 1991 on Teenage Fanclub's Bandwagonesque record. It's crammed with distorted guitars buzzing away delightfully. I've got Spotify to thank for putting these songs on my radar this year by including them in "mix for you" playlists (Don't get me wrong; Spotify recommends me a lot of shit, but once in a while they hit a home run.)

Speed Round:
The Wrens - This Boy Is Exhausted - Catchy indie rock. I need to check out more from them.
Florence + the Machine - Dog Days Are Over - According to iTunes, my most-listened-to track ever.
Cymbals Eat Guitars - Jackson - I LOVE THIS SONG.
Deerhunter - Desire Lines - Another song I will sometimes listen to on repeat over and over.
Beck - Dreams / Beck  - Colors - That Beck album from 2015 was really good.
Kamasi Washington - Clair de Lune - I like to listen to this as an intro before listening to Dark Side of the Moon. (It's a whole thing I do once a month or so.. yes, weed is involved.. I'll probably talk about this more in a future post.)

And so... Those are some of my favorite songs I've listened to a bunch in 2019 that originally came out at least a few years prior. Good stuff; Check 'em out!

Next up on the blog is John Lennon.. which I'm going to try to post on Christmas Day to bring a little "Happy Xmas" to the blog, but we'll see if I'm able to pull that off. Don't have a whole lot of time for drafting posts this time of year.

Any thoughts on B.B. King you'd like to share, or any songs that you've had on heavy rotation in 2019? Sound off in the comments! Thanks for reading.


  1. Glad you enjoyed "Riding With The King"! Their cover of "Come Rain Or Come Shine" was my wedding song, and my wife and I have the "Come Rain" and "Come Shine" engraved on the inside of our wedding bands.

  2. I didn't know much about B.B. King until the late '80s when he started to show up everywhere. He was on David Letterman's show a lot so "The Thrill Is Gone" got a lot of play. Like you, I fell that blues is a little too repetitive, but it sounds so good sometimes.

    Those "old" songs that you're digging are almost all songs that I grew up with: Bob Welch's "Sentimental Lady" is one of those songs I call "orthodontist songs" because it was on the radio on the dentist office when I was in there having braces work done. I also have the original Fleetwood Mac version AND have added a couple other Bob Welch tunes to my playlist this year.

    I hated "Thunder Island" when it was popular on the radio. Still don't like it. But the Dr. Hook song is one of those early teenage "what's going on in THIS song" faves that I remember my mom being appalled over. "Misunderstanding" is the first Genesis song I ever heard, playing on the radio in 1980. This is one of the reasons I don't like the "yacht rock term," because it lumps songs like this together but during the time period they were very different songs, at least to me.

    Sorry this response is long but here come the old songs I've been digging in 2019:

    B52s - Mesoptamia
    B52s - Give Me Back My Man
    B52s - Dance This Mess Around
    Billy Squier - Lonely Is the Night, She's a Runner
    Carmel - It's All in the Game
    Commodores - Old Fashion Love
    Cranberries - Salvation
    Cheap Trick - Ghost Town
    Joss Stone - Super Duper Love
    Kate Bush - Rubberband Girl
    Peter Gabriel - I Don't Remember
    The Police - Driven To Tears
    Pursuit of Happiness - Hard To Laugh
    The Romantics - One in a Million
    Roxy Music - Love Is the Drug
    Sade - Keep Looking
    Saga - On the Loose, Wind Him Up
    Shelia E. - The Belle of St. Mark
    Siouxsie and the Banshees - Cities in Dust
    Steve Miller Band - Circle of Love
    Til Tuesday - Love in a Vacuum
    Tom Cochrane - The Untouchable One

    There were others. Lot of these are songs I knew already but grew to love in 2019.

    1. Right on.. thanks for sharing. I know & love many of those songs, and the ones I don't I'll make an effort to check out.

      As for the "yacht rock term," yeah, I get what you mean. Just the other day, I heard Squeeze's "Tempted" in a yacht rock playlist and raised an eyebrow to its inclusion. Great song, but wouldn't group it in there.

  3. I love both versions of "Sentimental Lady". In fact, it's a song I end up singing a lot. When my wife finally heard the hit version, she told me that she always thought I was singing it terribly out of tune--but Welch was actually singing it the same way! I guess that's not an endorsement on her part, but I love it anyway. I'm sorry I never got to see Welch sing it, and I wish the new Fleetwood Mac lineup would do the song with Neil Finn singing lead--that would be gorgeous!

    My favorite BB King material is the stuff from the late 60s--the compilation Down In The Alley is a good place to start. Things like "Paying The Cost To Be The Boss" and I'm Gonna Do What They Do To Me".

  4. My brother is a huge blues fan and enjoys BB's music, but I honestly don't know much about him other than the fact that he's a legend.

    2019 has sort of been a blur and I'm feeling under the weather, so I won't even try to list my 2019 heavy rotation stuff. I will say that the same Fleetwood Mac LP has been sitting on my turntable for a few months though... and I've listened to that at least five or six times.

    1. Oh yeah? The self-titled Fleetwood Mac album or a different one? Great band.

    2. It's the Greatest Hits album. I've only purchased three or four brand new albums off of Amazon and this is one of them. But my brother did give me Rumours and Tusk LPs.

  5. I'm just getting right to the point:

    Listen to the blues. Every single one of you.

    I can get your "samey-samey" thought, and that's mainly cuz the chord progression of that style gets you to know it's the blues, But dammit - branch out. Give some other artists a listen. Lately I have been listening to a lot of RL Burnside. He has a couple great fusion albums out that you can find with the basic Aaazon Prime membership:

    But also Mavis Staples:

    Shamekia Copeland:

    Howlin' Wolf:

    Buddy Guy: (with SRV, btw)

    Little Walter:

    Muddy Waters:

    BB King:

    John Lee Hooker:

    I could go on.....

    1. Hey now, Jeff.. This blog is a "safe space" for talking about music and stuff. No lecturing people on what they should listen to and enjoy. Suggest stuff that you like and think others may like, sure, but shouting "dammit - branch out" isn't productive. Everyone has different tastes and the world would be a very boring place if we all had identical feelings about music. For the record, I already have some tracks of most of those artists you listed saved in my iTunes for years, and enjoy giving them the occasional listen (and I'll likely check out some of the others you listed). There's some great stuff there, no doubt. I just don't listen to a lot of blues in general... and that's ok. But yeah, trying to dictate people's listening habits is like telling people what to collect. You can be like, "Check out this cool set I like!" but don't be like "Dammit - collect this set!"