#299: Live at the Regal, B.B. King
The Wikipedia page for this record quotes a Chicago Tribune article, where B.B. calls this day the day “everything came together.” You can tell how on fire he is just by the reaction of the crowd. In “How Blue Can You Get,” a song full of biting lyrics, it’s a relatively innocuous one that gets the biggest cheer: I gave you seven children/ And now you wanna give ’em back. “Sweet Little Angel” got the strongest response from women, with their shrieks on the lyric asking her to “spread her wings” making it seem extra vulgar.
I knew enough to know that B.B. King was a guitar legend, but I wasn’t expecting him to be quite so charming. He carries songs like “It’s My Own Fault,” which is slow and sad but still soars on his high TREAT me, even as the guitar gets heavier and heavier. On the short and cheerful “Woke Up This Mornin,’” his performance high is palpable.
My favorite member of King’s band kept changing. Sometimes it was pianist Duke Jethro, who reportedly didn’t really know how to play piano. He’s integral to sexy songs like opener “Every Day I Have the Blues,” so he must have figured it out. The horns on “Please Love Me” make it impossible not to dance to. “Help the Poor” highlights his drum section with a Latin rhythm, groovy in a different way from everything else.
After a certain point, some of these songs do start to sound the same. By the time “You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now” rolled around, I was fatigued, even as he sent shivers down my spine with his casual delivery of the title. But at the same time, I never got tired of hearing his thousand-pound guitar. “Worry, Worry” was my favorite, and it’s the longest, at nearly seven minutes.
It made me realize why some people don’t like guitar “technicians” like Eddie Van Halen — they worry that people will stop appreciating the simpler & more emotive (though still technically impressive) solos from players like King. Lucky for us, we get to listen to both and decide for ourselves.