BB King recorded Live At the Regal in 1964 in Chicago and created one of the most famous and well regarded blues albums.
If you have an interest in the blues from rock artists like Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin and you want to delve back into the original masters, Live At The Regal is a great place to start.
BB King Live At The Regal Overall Review Rating – 28/30
My Rating – 28 out of 30 – this is one of the best live albums ever released
Average Amazon Customer Rating – %%AVERAGERATING%% Stars
Set List rating – 8/10
- Every Day I Have the Blues – 2:38
- Sweet Little Angel – 4:12
- It’s My Own Fault – 3:29
- How Blue Can You Get? – 3:44
- Please Love Me – 3:01
- You Upset Me Baby – 2:22
- Worry, Worry – 6:24
- Woke Up This Morning (My Baby’s Gone) – 1:45
- You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now – 4:16
- Help the Poor (Charlie Singleton) – 2:58
My own complaint about this terrific set is that it is only 34 minutes long. Once BB King starts playing and singing you will want it to go on for much longer. I had a similar complaint about James Brown Live At the Apollo.
Since I’ve found a much longer set on King’s 1971 album Live In Japan, I have downgraded my previous mark of 9/10 to 8/10. I don’t just want a bit more! I want a lot more and that has to cost it two stars.
Performance rating – 10/10
BB King sings and plays lead guitar and has an excellent back band on this album.
- Leo Lauchie – bass
- Duke Jethro – piano
- Sonny Freeman – drums
- Bobby Forte and Johnny Board – tenor saxophone
The sound is rich and exciting.
Live At The Regal is authentic blues at its feel good, uplifting best.The emphasis is on the vocals and BB King is a great singer. Yes there are surging guitar licks but it’s all very tasteful and there isn’t any of the overblown guitar histrionics that spoil some of the live blues rock live albums. Lucille (his guitar) is rich and luxurious and his vocals are so commanding, sweet and tender in places, loud and raucous in others.
It seems strange to see the blues as uplifting when the songs often deal with heartache but there is a redemptive power in this record that is remarkable.
If you’ve read my other reviews, you’ll know I have a weakness for saxophone in my music. It’s one of the reasons why I love Bruce Springsteen and this album has just enough without taking attention away from BB King.
Atmosphere & Authenticity rating – 10/10
It doesn’t get any better than this. BB King performing in a small club to an enthusiastic audience of ordinary fans in Chicago. (for example the opposite of Sam Cooke At The Copa).
BB King is chatty and you can tell that the crowd is loving the good times. Listening to BB’s philosophies of life always make me smile. The audience feedback adds to the atmosphere and you feel that it urges BB King on to greater feats.
You know that King is feeling every note he plays and every word that he sings and it all carries a powerful emotional punch.
Considering it was recorded nearly 50 years ago, it sounds great. The instruments, BB’s singing and the crowd are all nicely separated and balanced.
Total Rating For Live At The Regal by BB King – 28/30
Live At The Regal is one of the greatest live albums of all time.
It’s got everything and I only wish it was longer.
Like all truly great live albums, you wish you could go back in time and be at this concert – if you build a time machine, the important details are November 21, 1964 at the Regal Theater in Chicago.
I’ll be the very tall white guy whoopin’ and hollerin’ with the rest of the audience.
What Others Say About Live At The Regal
Rolling Stone Magazine considered it to be #141 on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. I’d argue that it should be higher.
In the best live albums of all time lists, it is curiously ignored by many. They can’t have hearts and souls.
These did mention Live At The Regal
Mojo – 12th
Chordstrike.com – 39th
It’s loved by Amazon reviewers. At the time of writing there are 52 reviews, 46 of them give it 5 stars and 3 give it 4 stars. The dissenters moan about the editing, the noisy, loud audience and too much singing and not enough guitar playing.
Buying Live At The Regal
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What Do You Think About Live At the Regal?
Is this the best BB King live album?
I think he’s an artist that definitely benefits from playing live in front of a crowd.
BB King live albums include:
1964 Live at the Regal – 1964-1994 How Blue Can You Get? Classic Live Performances – 1966 Blues Is King – 1969 Live & Well – 1970 Live in Cook County Jail – 1971 Live in Japan – 1973 Muddy Waters Blues Band Ft BB King Live at Ebbets Field – 1974 Together for the First Time…Live (With Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland) – 1976 Bobby Bland and B. B. King Together Again…Live – 1978 King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents BB King Live! – 1978 to 1998 Live at the BBC – 1979 Now Appearing at Ole Miss – 1990 Live at San Quentin – 1990 Live at the Apollo – 2006 Live (In Tennessee) – Live At Newport BB King Muddy Waters & Big Mama Thornton
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