True, this 1973 vintage best-of album covers a ridiculously slim wedge of time in the blues king's long career. Yet this period was quite significant, for it marks the crest of B.B. King's initial entry into the pop music mass market – and this album surfs succinctly, if not comprehensively, over the high points of his turn-of-the-decade winning streak. There's a potent slice of King's triumphant Live at Cook County – one of his sassiest "How Blue Can You Get?" on records – the huge hit "The Thrill Is Gone" extracts from his surprisingly pleasing early excursions into pop/rock territory on In London and Indianola Mississippi Seeds, and plenty of flavorful electric blues ("Sweet Sixteen," "Why I Sing the Blues") at full length. There are some quirks – "Caldonia" is shortened because one of the unnamed participants on the session demanded the cut, and the "compatible stereo/quad" sound on the LP has some details drastically mixed down when it's played back in ordinary stereo.
Having never made a completely satisfactory album, in part because many of their songs sound somewhat similar,
"…Besides: A Collection of B-Sides and Rarities is in the best sense a loving gesture for the fans – the loud stuff is louder and the quiet stuff is quieter than what this band usually had to offer, but every cut here rings clear with heart and soul and offers a splendid reminder of why this band matters. In short, not for everyone, but if you're any kind of a fan, you'll find plenty here to love."
In 1966 two R & B bands local to Oldham (UK) merged to form a blues outfit THE BLUES KEEPERS. With sponsorship from a local businessman (also their manager) they rented an 18th century farmhouse where they practised extensively, gradually moving towards a progressive rock style then beginning to emerge…