B.B. King

Live [Geffen]

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Recorded in the fall of 2006, shortly after B.B. King's 81st birthday, Live is really an abridged audio complement to a video release, containing 12 of the 19 tracks available on the DVD of the same title. King has made a lot of live albums in his time, but his approach hasn't changed much over the years. In addition to his obvious talents as a guitarist and showman, he has also been fortunate in that his chosen style of music, a version of the blues growing out of the swing-influenced jump blues of the 1940s, has not only remained perennially popular but grown in acceptance. As performed here by the B.B. King Blues Band, it is still essentially the same, a jazzy roadhouse music that leaves plenty of room for solos. At one time, most of those solos were played by King on his guitar, but now he is content to give the showcase to his horn players, as he does on "Blues Man," or organist James Toney, who claims the lion's share of "Rock Me Baby." There is still plenty of guitar work, however, and King remains seemingly as agile as ever. He is also a relaxed, comfortable frontman, engaging in easy banter with both band and audience. And he even seems at peace with the notion that the road can't go on forever. "Key to the Highway" has something of an elegiac tone, and it ends with a promise that for King seems to be no more than a simple statement of fact: "I'm gonna do this till I die, folks."

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