It has been estimated that blues great B.B. King has played more than 10,000 shows in a career spanning nearly 60 years. Whenever the King of the Blues has carried his venerable guitar Lucille onto any stage at any time, the performance has become an unforgettable classic–and on occasion has been immortalized on some of the greatest live albums ever issued. Yet in 2006, he marked a first when he recorded a live album at two of his own clubs, B.B. King’s Blues Club in Nashville, Tennessee on October 26/27 and in Memphis on October 29/30. The best of these memorable concerts are now presented in both the DVD and CD formats as LIVE! (Geffen/UMe), released February 19, 2008.
For the two-hour-plus DVD, the concerts were taped in high definition video and mixed in 5.1 Surround. Bonus material includes a behind-the-scenes “making of” feature and a special message from King to his fans. To fit on a single CD, the audio disc features 12 of the DVD’s 18 songs.
On LIVE!, backed by his remarkable touring band, B.B. lays down quintessential performances from his signature tune “The Thrill Is Gone” to “When Love Comes To Town,” the song that introduced him to a new generation in the late 1980s, to Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key To The Highway,” for which he teamed with disciple Eric Clapton in 2000. He also performs a pair of songs he has never before recorded–the standards “You Are My Sunshine” and “When The Saints Go Marching In.”
B.B.’s band opens the show on the DVD sans King with “Manhattan Blues” and “Two I Shoot.” During the concert, the musical icon revives his ’50s and ’60s R&B hits “Rock Me Baby,” “Don’t Answer The Door” and “Why I Sing The Blues” plus other B.B. gems from that era such as “A Whole Lot Of Lovin’,” “Ain’t That Just Like A Woman,” “Bad Case Of Love,” “I Need You So,” “Darling, You Know I Love You” and “All Over Again.” Along with the early ’70s hit “Guess Who” is “Blues Man” from the late ’90s.
King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, becoming one of the first artists so honored. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked him #3 among the “100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time.” In 2006, he was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest honor awarded to a civilian; his 1964 album Live At The Regal was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame; and he won his 14th Grammy Award, for Best Traditional Blues Album for B.B. King & Friends: 80, which celebrated his 80th birthday the previous year. He has won eight previous Grammys in that category and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. “The Thrill Is Gone” is also in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Whether live at the Regal, San Quentin, the Apollo, or a B.B. King’s Blues Club, B.B. King rules over the blues.
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