Eric Clapton may be the superstar name that makes "Riding With the King" a candidate for million-selling success, but it's clear he feels he should still take a back seat to the venerable bluesman B.B. King.
Clapton makes his presence strongly felt as a guitarist and vocalist, but he doesn't have any writing credits. The selection relies on new versions of five vintage King songs, filled out by a couple of blues standards and songs from contemporary writers such as John Hiatt and Doyle Bramhall II.
It's easy to feel that a pairing this momentous deserved something more special in the songwriting department. Still, it's hard to fault much of the material. Clapton and King offer strong renditions of King's "Days of Old," "Three O'Clock Blues" and "Ten Long Years." But other tunes, particularly the two co-written by Bramhall -- "Marry You" and "I Wanna Be" -- seem like obvious attempts to court rock-radio airplay.
Overall, "Riding With the King" is solid and enjoyable. But the CD does sound like a missed opportunity.