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The two-disc, 34-track Anthology could be subtitled "The Crossover Decades," for it covers the years when B.B. King (like his "Sweet Little Angel") spread his wings. Spanning the era 1962-1998, the set begins when King was a recording veteran whose renown was confined to the blues ghetto. Applying vocal grit and guitar sting to the dramatic call-and-response of his material, King won rock converts with his Live at the Regal album (represented here by two highlights), climbed the pop charts with the string-laced "The Thrill Is Gone," employed the jazz grooves of the Crusaders and the soul tinge of the Memphis Horns, and even invaded MTV with U2's "When Love Comes to Town." More scattershot survey than comprehensive career summary, this collection isn't as consistent as King's single-disc hits compilations or as expansive as his four-disc King of the Blues box, but it amply documents his staying power. --Don McLeese
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