B.B. King, Live at the Regal

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 12.28.11 in Reviews

Live At The Regal

B.B. King
Capturing a master musician and showman at his peak

Long celebrated as the ultimate live urban blues album, this 1964 set captures a master musician and showman at his peak. B.B. King paces his set magnificently, opening with “Every Day I Have the Blues” in high gear and then slowing things down and building to climax after climax, the band behind him turning on a dime; by the mid-set “Please Love Me” his roaring vocals and the steamrolling band are an unstoppable juggernaut, and even when they rush the tempos, it’s impossible not to get caught up in the frenzy. By this point, King had honed his guitar work so finely that each note is like a sharp diamond with a bit of a rough edge; the sustained notes shimmer with rare beauty. The feeling is intimate and conversational throughout; “this is the part I like,” he confides as he enters a new verse of “It’s My Own Fault.” The simpatico between artist and audience, the way they feed off each other, is astonishing; from beginning to end, this is the blues as you never hear them anymore.