Live at the Regal

B.B. King

His plump figure with the guitar dwarfed by his plump body forms part of our lives. Of all, almost no matter when they were born. He was already there. Because B. B. King is the blues. His discography is as immense as his talent and has always been known more for songs combined with his legend than for any particular album. And especially for his live performances in a life that has practically been permanent tour. It wasn’t until 2015 that his health began to catch up with him a months before turning 90 years old.

In a survey of all his albums, most likely only two of his albums would come to mind: Riding with the King, his best-selling duet with Eric Clapton recorded at the edge of the 21st century, and Live at the Regal, the album from 1964 and released a year after he was consecrated the definitively as the “king”, the authentic and supreme monarch of the guitar that is immersed in the swampy waters of the blues with the permission of the other two with right to bear the same surname: Albert y Freddie.

That concert took place during his time of full maturity, marked by technical perfection and even a throat that still allowed him to play with falsettos. He couldn’t conserve his voice, but then it also brought about a unique feature that has made his concerts special decade after decade: the ability to wrap the audience around his finger by having them participate in the show. His tricks in this area have been copied almost as much as his own vibrato that has dazzled many and strangers making it look easy when it is not.

On Live at the Regal, there are the songs that have accompanied him throughout the majority of his career, those that barely last three minutes long and almost achieve to condense the spirit of those slaves who cried their sorrows amongst cotton. The majority are of other guys, because, Riley B. King, his true name, has been above all an interpreter, a transmitter of feelings of characters such as Memphis Slim, which begins the album –Everyday I have the blues-, or John Lee Hooker and his eternal lament of It’s only my fault. Of the crop, which can be described as self-written, although it’s not listed in the credits, it is required to highlight How blue can you get?, a fixture in repertoire ever since. His trademark song.

Much technological work has gone into the remastering of an essential disc for both connoisseurs and the inexperienced listener, that in no way has it diminished interest. On the contrary, the remastering removes that nostalgic charm that accompanies every good blues and it is better to the listen to them in the most “raw” version possible.