Best of B.B. King [EMI]
For much of the 1950s, B.B. King cut sides for the Bihari Brothers' RPM and Kent labels, and the diversity of the material, from spirituals to hard, horn-driven R&B, is pretty impressive. This brief set (at ten songs, it falls just short of 30 minutes in length) collects RPM and Kent singles on the jump blues side of things, including 1954's "When My Heart Beats Like a Hammer," 1956's "Sweet Little Angel," and a 1955 cover of Lowell Fulson's "Everyday I Have the Blues." Each of these features King backed by a large band complete with a horn section, and there is plenty of his trademark sharp and brittle guitar runs on display. King wouldn't record his signature song, a masterful cover of Roy Hawkins' "The Thrill Is Gone," for a least another decade ("Thrill" was initially released in 1969), so calling this compilation The Best of B.B. King is probably a stretch, and since there are several other collections of King's Bihari material on the market, there is no compelling reason to seek out this package. EMI released this same set with the same running order and title but with different cover art in 1994.