Personnel: B.B. King (vocals, guitar); Dean Parks, Roland Bautista (guitar); Wilton Felder (tenor saxophone, bass); Steven Madaio, Charles B. Findley, George Bohanon, Dennis Quitman, Kurt McGettrick, Gary Herbig, Abe Most, Dick Cary, Robert Enevoldsen, Eddie Miller (horns); Joe Sample (keyboards); Robert "Pops" Popwell (bass); "Stix" Hooper (drums, percussion); James Gadson (drums); Julia Waters Tillman, Maxine Waters Willard, Luther Waters, Oren Waters (background vocals).
Producers: Stix Hooper, Stewart Levine, Wilton Felder, Joe Sample.
Recorded at Hollywood Sound Recorders, Hollywood, California.
Six of this album's seven songs were written by Joe Sample, the Texas-born jazz legend. Sample, who plays keyboards on the record, contributes to MIDNIGHT BELIEVER's overall sensibility and eclecticism. The rich production values and careful arrangements make for recordings that are lush and intricate, with less of the trademark grit shown on much of King's earlier stuff. So while this doesn't feel like a traditional blues album, it is unmistakably a B.B. King record. Sample brings with him the rhythm section of his former group, The Crusaders.
King aims for a wider-than-usual sonic palette here: the title track has a slick, smooth-jazz flavor, with Sample's electric piano and lush horn and string sections providing a sort of late-period Steely Dan feel. Honky-tonk piano, Dixieland horns and clarinet distinguish "I Just Can't Leave You Alone." "Never Make a Move Too Soon" is an extended vamp, replete with hand claps and ambient party noises. And "Let Me Make You Cry a Little Longer" is a slow, romantic soul ballad with a little funk thrown in for good measure.
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