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B.B. King- Live at the Regal (1965)

B.B. King Live At The Regal (ABC)

Recorded November 21, 1964

Released sometime in 1965

B.B. King was one of the hardest-working men in show business. For nearly 70 years, King performed consistently, showcasing his fantastic guitar techniques and vocal interpretations of blues material. Riley "B.B." King was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, on a cotton plantation. As a youth, King sang in church and began playing guitar by the age of 13. He gained his reputation in Memphis, Tennessee, and began developing a local following while performing on King Biscuit Time's popular radio program in 1948. His guest appearances then led to a job as a radio host and D.J. During this time; King met T-Bone Walker, who inspired him to switch to the electric guitar. After making the change, B.B. King became even more known as he gained a reputation by performing in many Beale Street clubs. He also landed a recording contract with Bullet Records and released his first single, "Miss Martha King." Even though B.B. King's early releases failed to have much impact, he continued to find opportunities to record and tour.

By 1950, King began an exhaustive pattern of touring and recording that would continue for the next 65 years. In 1952, he charted his first single, "3 O'Clock Blues," reaching number one on the R&B Charts. Throughout the decade, King continued to have success with such classics as "Woke Up This Morning," "Everyday I Have the Blues," and "Sweet Little Angel."

By performing nearly 300 a year, King remained visible and viable throughout his life. With 16 Grammy Awards, several honorary doctorates, a Kennedy Center Award, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, a National Medal of Arts, and inductions into both the Blues and Rock, and the Roll Hall of Fame, B.B. King is one of the most celebrated bluesmen of all time. His advancement of electric blues beginning in 1950 ranks him as one of the essential blues artists of the second half of the 20th century.

About the Album

By 1965, B.B. King began gaining further attention during the electric blues revival spearheaded by British rock bands. Live At The Regal was recorded on November 21, 1964, at the Regal Theater in Chicago, where King often played. Backing the blues legend and his faithful guitar Lucille was Leo Lauchie on bass, Kenneth Sands on trumpet, Johnny Board and Bobby Forte on tenor saxophone, and Sonny Freeman on drums. Playing piano was Duke Jethro. Jethro usually played organ with the group, but his organ was not working on the night of the gig, and King told his organist just to play the theater's piano. When he told King he did not play piano, King replied, “Just sit there and pretend because that’s what you do most of the time anyway.” The album peaked at #56 on the U.S Billboard Charts.

Side 1

(+ means "recommended track" and * means released as a single)

Track 1- “Everyday I Have The Blues” is a blues standard credited to Pinetop Parks and his brother Milton Sparks. The first recording of the tune came in 1935. A popular version was recorded in 1949 by blues pianist and singer, Memphis Slim; therefore, the song is often credited to him. A version of “Everyday I Have The Blues” was also released by blues shouter Joe Williams with the Count Basie Orchestra in 1949. The B.B. King remake was released the following year. Lyrically the song is a statement on the everyday struggles many people feel. I always thought it would make a great theme song for an anti-depressant medication commercial. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 2020, more than 264 million people of all ages globally were estimated to be living with depression. This figure represents a significant increase from previous years.

The piece begins with an introduction by the M.C. After a short guitar solo, the band dives right in with a quick jump-blues interpretation. King sings the 12-bar blues and then unleashes his signature style of guitar soloing, which showcases his use of vibrato, which is a shaking of the note to create a vocal-like effect, along with well-placed phrases that are equal parts technical ability, restraint, and sophistication. The song is a high-flying opener, which sets the mood for the evening's music. “Everyday I Have The Blues” has been covered by Etta James, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, John Mayer, and many others.

Track 2- “Sweet Little Angel” is another standard blues. B.B. King’s 1956 reworking of the song was inspired by Lucille Bogan’s composition and recording of “Sweet Man Blues” from 1930, along with Tampa Red’s 1934 “Black Angel Blues” recording, and Robert Nighthawk’s 1949 version. In 1950 Tampa Red updated his version and renamed it “Sweet Little Angel.” In 1953, Earl Hooker also recorded “Sweet Angel.”

In 1956, B.B. King reworked Nighthawk’s version and released his take. In 1957, B.B. King transformed the tune by adding horns and featured the song on his first album Singin’ the Blues (Crown Records). Lyrically the song is about a sense of yearning and infatuation of a girl and the many emotions surrounding those feelings.

In this live version, King drops the tempo and has the audience's support, attention, and encouragement. The audience's reaction adds to the power of the performance, and King knows he has them right where he wants them. It's an outstanding performance that builds dynamically halfway into the tune. When it's time for his guitar solo at around 3:00, the band quickly settles down, allowing the King to take the throne. He ends the song by setting up the next tune “It’s My Own Fault.”

Regarding the concept of angels, most major religions have a belief. Christians believe they serve as messangers and guardians. In the Islamic faith, angels deliver messages fromGgod and record human deeds. In Judaism, they are seen as celestial beings that carry out particular functions. In Sikhism, angelic beings known as “devas'' are considered part of God’s divine orders. In the ancient Persian religion Zoroastrianism, angels are associated with various aspects of creation and protection. The list goes on and on as to those who have recorded “Sweet Little Angel.” There are versions by Freddie King, Albert King, Eric Clapton, Koko Taylor, Susan Tedeschi, and others. (*+)

Track 3- “It’s My Own Fault” was written by legendary bluesman John Lee Hooker in 1954. B.B. King first recorded the song in 1960 and included it on his album Blues (Crown Records). When it comes to faults, we all have them, but many people's instincts are to place blame on others rather than accept their faults. Some may say things like, “I lost my job because my boss doesn’t understand me,” but fail to mention they show up to work late and drunk. Or “I have no friends because people don’t understand me,” when the reality is you're a shitty friend because you spend too much time researching and making podcasts—maybe an oddly specific example but an example all the same. In John Lee Hooker’s case, he wrote a song about it. In the lyrics, the narrator assumes blame. He knows he’s not a good companion, and he is at the mercy of his woman to treat him the way “she wants to do.” It's interesting to note that B.B. King's two marriages ended in divorce. A highlight comes during King’s closing guitar solo. Also, take notice of Duke Jethro’s piano playing. For a guy who claimed he didn't play piano, he sounded pretty good at it to me. To close the song, King abruptly switches keys before shifting into the next tune of the medley, “How Blue Can You Get”

Track 4- “How Blue Can You Get” There are possibly 260 types of blue, depending on the source. In a standard Crayola box, there are 19 blue crayons. In terms of emotion, things can get pretty blue. To begin the tune, King tells the audience to “pay attention to his lyrics and not so much the singing or the band” and that “it's time to get way down and out.” This simple 12-bar blues was written by jazz critic Leonard Feather and his wife, Jane Feather, in 1949. The tune was first recorded the same year it was written by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers. King first recorded the number as “Downhearted” on his 1963 record Blues In My Heart (Crown Records). The song was a minor hit for B.B. King and a staple of his live shows. In 1996 the band Primitive Radio God sampled the line “I’ve been downhearted baby, ever since the day we met” for their hit “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand.” (+)

Track 5- “Please Love Me” For this tune, King shifts to a fast danceable shuffle with heavy horn backgrounds, further connecting King to the shuffle blues tradition of blending swing and blues.

King first released the song on his debut album Singin’ the Blues. (Crown Records). In the lyrics, the narrator is infatuated with a girl, and he tells her, “If you love me, I’ll do anything you say.” The lyrics then shift to “If you love me, do everything I say,” and “If you don’t do what I tell you, you better get on your knees and pray.” It may be a statement that relationships change and that we take the person we once tried so hard to get with for granted as a relationship devolves.

Side 2

Track 1- “You Upset Me Baby” The song begins after the MC reintroduces King, and the band breaks into a slow blues; then there is an abrupt tape edit, and the music picks up instantly as King presents the medium uptempo “You Upset Me Baby.” The song was released in 1954 as a single and became one of B.B. King's biggest hits, reaching #1 on the R&B charts. The song features stop-time vocal breaks. In this case, the word “upset” is not used to reveal sadness. Instead, King uses “upset” to mean “excitement.” The opening lyrics give the narrator's girlfriend’s dimensions. If you want to buy her some clothes, just know that she’s 36 in the bust, 28 in the waist, 44 in the hips.” (*+)

Track 2- “Worry, Worry” This is an old blues tune in which King tells the audience it's time to go “way back.” King first recorded the song on the 1962 album Easy Listening Blues (Crown Records.) Clocking in at 6:24, the track is by far the most lengthy on the record. King gives a clinic on blues interpretation on this one, and the band seems to read King's signals perfectly by presenting abrupt dynamic shifts and stop-time figures. The audience's response certainly adds to the overall feel of the track. The song is about a worrier whose “life is miserable.” Toward the tune's end, King gives some pretty odd relationship advice. Remember, he was twice divorced. Take notice of his falsetto singing on this one.

Track 3- “Woke Up This Morning” is a B.B. King original. The tune begins with a Latin feel. By offering such a unique groove to the blues, King provides some variety to the form. About a minute in, the band switches back to a more characteristic shuffle swing. Lyrically it's about a guy who woke up to an empty bed because his girlfriend left him. The tune is all of 1:45 long, a quick get up and go.

Track 4- “You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now” brings the music back to a more down-home blues. It’s what the King does best. The song builds throughout. One of the great lines in the tune is “The way I used to love you, that's the way I hate you now.” Relationships are not easy, and the King knows that. A known lady's man King fathered 15 children, none of which were with his wives. Many of them have fought over his estate after he died in 2015.

Track 5- “Help The Poor” was written by Charles Singleton and was first released by B.B. King in 1964. In terms of feel, the music blends bossa nova, soul, and blues. Throughout the song, the narrator asks for help. In this case, the word “poor” is used as a homonym. With “poor” meaning both sad and broke. Throughout his career, King figured out how to present the blues to ensure he never went poor, although he did have some financial difficulties at times. According to various web sources, his net worth was around 10 million dollars.

In Conclusion

Live at The Regal is one of the most celebrated live blues albums ever. The record reveals that B.B. King has complete command over his audience and was a masterful guitarist and an excellent singer deserving of the many accolades he received. After a long fight with diabetes, B.B. King died in 2015 at 89 years old. He performed till 88 years old. Long live the King!

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