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B.B. King - Live (DVD/CD)

Universal Music Group

DVD Run Time: 1 Hour 52 minutes Live

The legendary Blues Boy King returns with his first live recording in 13 years. (Last one was Blues Summit). The DVD was recorded over four nights in two of B.B.’s Blues clubs in Memphis & Nashville. This recording captures EVERYTHING about King’s live show over the last five to ten years. The show runs the gamut of King’s live repertoire from early back catalog gems like 1964’s “Don’t Answer the Door” and his early Kent classic “It’s My Own Fault”, featured in a medley with “Door” in the middle of the line up.

The DVD is aptly dedicated to BB’s road band and to his late keyboard wizard James Toney. Tragically, Toney passed away shortly after the making of this recording. Leader “Boogaloo” Bolden’s no-nonsense but whimsically stage-presence on trumpet is apparent in his relation to his band and the playful banter he tosses back and forth. (Yes he is related to the late great jazz pioneer and trumpeter Buddy Bolden!)

Two characters in BB’s band over the last six years, Charles Dennis on guitar and young Reggie Richards on bass, are often the brunt of these “attacks” of candor.

In the middle of BB’s stripped down set Dennis’ playful death guitar licks and BB’s glancing looks during “All Over Again” are priceless bits of comedy. With the crowd in the palm of his hand, BB proclaims about Richards’ youth: “I can’t even remember when I was his age” showing why the world’s ambassador to blues still has a knack for entertaining at 82 years of age.

In “All Over Again,” he shows the bands ability to stop on a dime at the wave of a hand and reminisces to the crowd about selling Pepticon on WDIA in his teens.  The band plays the theme to the ad for him as he sings it from memory, telling us “it was supposed to cure whatever ails you” and then goes on to relate how certain male enhancement pills have taken its place.

The listener or watcher to the DVD will be entertained. It’s not BB in his top form of days gone by, but it is still worthy of ownership. It show’s a legend can still show a crowd of any age and size a good time without becoming a parody of himself.

The true highlight of the DVD is the melancholy almost farewell by B.B. in the bonus features found under “BB’s Message To His Fans”. Here he gives us his reasons for recording this “intimate” setting for future generations. You might be taken aback by the emotion of this nine minute message.  Beware those who are tender hearted, as tears might well up! For this recording to have its full impact, you must have the DVD. The CD is a nice companion piece for in the car or around work, but the true power of Mr. King must be heard and SEEN!

This album will exemplify the blues boy from Indianola’s legendary iconic status for years to come. If this is BB’s parting shot, it will give us a warm embrace even long after he’s gone.

Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.

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