Live albums are often disappointing, but that's not the case with Live in Japan. Blues legend B.B. King was at the height of his popularity at the time of this 1971 performance. "The Thrill Is Gone" had been a smash hit the previous year, and his albums Completely Well, Indianola Mississippi Seeds, and Live in Cook County had sold extremely well. This live set was recorded with the same crack band that played on Cook County, and the performance overflows with a palpable exuberance.
The interplay between King and his backing players is wildly energetic and often spontaneous, as the impromptu jam "Japanese Boogie," "Jamming at Sankei Hall," and "Hikari #88" will attest. As always, King's trademark fretboard chops and soulful phrasing are outstanding, and his singing on such gems as "How Blue Can You Get," "Hummingbird," and, of course, "The Thrill Is Gone" seems especially heartfelt. A dynamite shot of classic blues and a top-notch live set.