Sunday, 30 September 2012

B.B King- Live At The Regal

If my last few posts are any guide it seems that the blues has a prominent position in my cd player at the moment. B.B King is a truly unique artist an amazing blues guitarist with a voice that took him beyond the traditional blues audience. He was hard to categorise a voice shaped from the church and from the late 40's blues shouters but one with fire and brimstone soul, he was a guitar player with virtuosity and dexterity, capable of smouldering slow burning blues and equally adept at rocking and rolling rhythm and blues with those blasting horns in the background.

By the mid 60's King was beginning to expand his following from his traditional R&B fanbase, white audiences and aspiring musicians from abroad were starting to fall under his influence. He had moved from the small Kent records to the larger ABC Paramount which would have also assisted his desire for a larger audience. It seemed ostensible then to capture King at his most formidable, and that was live, for King was a road warrior normally clocking up 300 plus days a year on the road. This live album recorded in November 1964 at the Regal Theatre in Chicago gives a glowing example of how good a live performer he was. The album smokes from the opening track he kicks off with a driving version of his old chestnut Everyday I Have The Blues, with a six piece band backing him, king fires off solos while the horn section crackles behind. Sweet Little Angel features some nice piano work by Duke Jethro, B.B was rarely matched vocally when it came to singing a slow blues what his voice accomplished is then matched by his incendiary guitar work.

On How Blue Can You Get B.B demonstrates why he was so influential on the likes of Eric Clapton and Mike Bloomfield, the ability to use the guitar as another emotional voice on a song was something that Clapton especially learned from King's catalogue. Please Love Me is classic barnstorming R&B, King is more restrained allowing those solos to float over the song and also featuring more call and response trade off with the horn section.

Side two kicks off with the classic You Upset Me Baby, once again encapsulating the beauty of R&B foot tapping dance music with a soulful charge that lifts each song into the stratosphere. Worry Worry is King in after midnight mode, bringing the fever down and firing off blues riffs that you can hear a few years later by guitarists like Duane Allman, each note sustained and twisted. Help The Poor which would be a minor hit for King has a latin tinge with the horns given prominence. Live At The Regal is an amazing live document, it had a profound influence on a future generation of musicians who were discovering the power of blues.

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