November 16, 2001

Test Spins: B.B. King

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Every year, around mid-November, a swarm of Christmas albums floods the shelves, just in time for the holiday frenzy. Artists from all genres jump on the bandwagon, resulting in mild variations on old classics; great if you enjoy holiday music, repulsive if you don’t.

A Christmas Celebration of Hope, B.B King’s contribution to the bunch, has a similar effect, although somehow it is beyond the rest, as King has his way of making being lonely seem cool.

Although the title is somewhat deceptive, (as most songs include King’s trademark blues riffs and lyrics), the album holds its own against the masses. Particular highlights include “Christmas in Heaven,” a slow, sweet tune, and the classic, indulgently sad “Please Come Home for Christmas,” masterfully done with King’s mournful vocals and guitar. Besides these classic tunes, there are also B.B. King originals such as “Christmas Celebration.”

A must for the lover of warm, fuzzy holiday music with a bit of an edge, or for the B.B. King fan who will tolerate it for the love of the cool music behind it.

Archived article by Stacy Williams