As you may recall, we first explored live music on albums a few days ago with the iconic James Brown album, “Live At The Apollo”. I think I have found the perfect companion album for that selection, and I think I may even like this one even more, which is saying something. “Live At The Regal”, recorded in Chicago’s Regal Theater, is blues guitarist B.B. King’s dynamic performance from one night in late 1964. This album is rated as the 299th greatest album on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Like “Live At The Apollo”, this album is carried by the powerful back and forth surge of energy between King, his band, and the audience. B.B. King has a unique and evolved sound, mixing in a dash of R&B to his sound with a three-man horn section. I remember B.B. King once telling the band members of U2 before recording a song with them that “he doesn’t play chords”, and that is essentially true. The rhythm and melody come from the band, he provides the lead vocals, while his guitar playing is focused on nimble and soulful solos. The album and show explode with the intro track, “Every Day I Have The Blues”, then he digs deeper and slows it down with “Sweet Little Angel”. This entire album just rocks and reinforces once again the power of live music, and how much I truly miss it.
I appreciate the time King takes to recognize his band during the performance, as this performance is a true collaborative effort like any show. These backing musicians don’t get the same praise, hype, or reward, but I would imagine even today, they and their descendant family members can look back with pride on a cool fall evening in Chicago that suddenly turned red-hot inside the Regal Theater… what a night, what an album.