Various Artists – Crossroads Guitar Festival (2007)

FrontCover1.jpgReleased almost exactly three years after the first, tremendously successful Crossroads DVD, this double-disc documents the 2007 benefit concert for Clapton’s Crossroads Center substance abuse facility. “Guitar” is the operative word here, since all the participants are six-string players. As in the last show, the genres include country (Willie Nelson, Vince Gill), gospel (Robert Randolph), Latin rock (Los Lobos), pop (Sheryl Crow, John Mayer), jazz fusion (John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck) and lots of blues (everyone else). Some performers such as Randolph, Mayer, B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray, Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy, and of course Clapton return from the 2004 lineup. That was a two-day event held in Dallas, TX. This was a one day — a very long day — show moved to the home of the blues, a stadium just outside of Chicago, and features a very funny Bill Murray introducing the acts.

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Based on the sunlight, it seems to be in chronological order, or close to it. Each artist gets one or two tunes cherrypicked from longer sets which keeps this album fast paced, even at its three-hour length. Still, it would make sense to release more music on a separate DVD or even CD for those who would like to hear the rest of the material. That is especially the case with Jeff Beck and Robert Randolph, two artists that burn up the stage with abbreviated performances. A highly anticipated reunion with Clapton and his Blind Faith bandmate Steve Winwood results in three songs, “Presence of the Lord,” “Can’t Find My Way Home,” and “Had to Cry Today” from that band’s only album.

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While it sounds fine, there is a noticeable spark and edge missing from the interaction, leaving it somewhat bland and certainly anti-climactic. Derek Trucks burns through Layla’s “Anyday,” though, and Clapton sounds inspired on “Tell the Truth,” another Layla track cranked up with Trucks taking the Duane Allman slide part. Collaborations also bring out the best in some axe slingers, with Vince Gill and Albert Lee’s hot-wired “Country Boy,” and Jimmie Vaughan fronting the Robert Cray band on a sizzling slow blues “Dirty Work at the Crossroads.” (by Hal Horowitz)

Los Lobos2

Tracklist:
01. Sonny Landreth: Hell At Home (with Eric Clapton) (Landreth) 6.38
02. John McLaughlin: Maharina (McLaughlin) 8.00
03. Doyle Bramhall II; Outside Woman Blues (Reynolds) 3.45
04. Derek Trucks Band: Highway 61 Revisited (with Johnny Winter) (Dylan) 9.17
05. Robert Randolph & The Family Band: The March (Randolph) 12.04
06. The Robert Cray Band: Poor Johnny (Cray) 6.20
07. Jimmie Vaughan: Dirty Work At The Crossroads (with The Robert Cray Band) (Brown/ Robey) 4.09
08. Hubert Sumlin: Sitting On The Top Of The World (with he Robert Cray Band & Jimmie Vaughan (Burnett) 4.29
09. B.B. King: The Thrill Is Gone (Benson/Pettie) 7.14
10. John Mayer: I Don´t Need No Doctor (Ashford/Simpson/Armstead) 7.10
11. Vince Gill: Sweet Thing (Nicholson/Gill) 5.04
12. Albert Lee: Country Boy (with Vince Gill) (Lee/Smith/Colton)
13. Eric Clapton & Sheryl Crow: Tulsa Time (with Vince Gill & Albert Lee) (Flowers) 6.32
14. Willie Nelson: On The Road Again  (with Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill & Albert Lee) (Nelson) 2.50
15. Los Lobos: Chains Of Love (Hidalgo/Pérez) 6.53
16. Jeff Beck: Big Block (Beck/Bozzio/Hymas) 5.44
17. Eric Clapton: Little Queen Of Spades (Johnson) 12.59
18. Eric Clapton & Robbie Robertson: Further On Up The Road (Robey‎/Veasey) 7.18
19. Steve Winwood & Eric Clapton: Pearly Queen (Capaldi/Winwood) 5.47
20. Steve Winwood & Eric Clapton: Had To Cry Today (Winwood) 6.24
21. Steve Winwood & Eric Clapton: Cocaine (Cale) 9.30
22. Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood: Crossroads (Johnson) 5.59
23. Buddy Guy: Stone Crazy
24. Buddy Guy: Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues (Guy) 5.21
25. Buddy Guy & Eric Clapton: Hoochie Coochie Man (Dixon) 9.18
26. Buddy Guy: Sweet Home Chicago (with Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, John Mayer, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmie Vaughan, Johnny Winter) (Johnson) 8.53

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Tony Bennett – Playin’ With My Friends – Bennett Sings The Blues (2001)

FrontCover1.jpgPlayin’ with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues is a 2001 album by Tony Bennett featuring duets with notable vocalists.

Tony Bennett’s latter-day albums tend to have themes, and this one has two, as indicated by its double-barreled title: It is both a duets album and a blues album. The duet partners include ten singers who range from his recent touring partners Diana Krall and k.d. lang to fellow veterans Ray Charles, B.B. King, and Kay Starr, and younger, but still mature pop stars Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, and Billy Joel. All sound happy to be sharing a mic with Bennett. Not surprisingly, the singer’s conception of the blues does not extend to the Mississippi Delta or the South Side of Chicago; rather, he is interested in the blues as filtered through the sound of the Swing Era, particularly from around Kansas City, and as interpreted by Tin Pan Alley and show tunes. For the former, his true mentor is Count Basie, whose overt influence is heard on six of the 15 tracks.

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Bennett makes no attempt to hide this, leading off the album with two songs, “Alright, Okay, You Win” (a duet with Krall) and “Everyday (I Have the Blues)” (a duet with Wonder), closely associated with Basie singer Joe Williams. The Broadway and Hollywood blues style is introduced in three selections written by Harold Arlen. On about half the tracks, the Ralph Sharon Quartet is augmented by Harry Allen’s saxophone and Mike Melvoin’s Hammond organ, but this remains a small, intimate affair that emphasizes the singers. There are missteps — Sheryl Crow’s Billie Holiday impersonation on “Good Morning, Heartache” is unfortunate, and Natalie Cole, as usual, sounds out of her depth on “Stormy Weather.” But the trade-offs Bennett enjoys with King and Charles are priceless, and the Joel duet is surprisingly effective. On the whole, this is yet another entry in Bennett’s lengthening series of autumnal recorded triumphs. (by William Ruhlmann)

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Personnel:
Harry Allen (saxophone)
Tony Bennett (vocals)
Clayton Cameron (drums)
Paul Langosch (bass)
Mike Melvoin (organ)
Gray Sargent (guitar)
Ralph Sharon (piano)
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Ray Charles – Natalie Cole – Sheryl Crow – Billy Joel – B.B. King – Diana Krall – K.D.Lang -Bonnie Raitt – Kay Starr – Stevie Wonder – Judy Garland

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Tracklist:
01. Alright, Okay, You Win (with Diana Krall) (Watts/Wyche) 3.31
02. Everyday (I Have the Blues) (with Stevie Wonder) (Chatman) 3.39
03. Don’t Cry Baby (Bernie/Johnson/Unger) 2.43
04. Good Morning Heartache (with Sheryl Crow) (Drake/Fisher/Higginbotham) 4.56
05. Let The Good Times Roll (with B.B. King) (Moore/Theard) 3.14
06. Evenin’ (with Ray Charles) (Parish/White) 4.15
07. I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues (with Bonnie Raitt) (Arlen/Koehler) 3.55
08. Keep The Faith, Baby (with K.D. Lang) (de Jesus/Lerner/Watts) 3.52
09. Old Count Basie Is Gone (Old Piney Brown Is Gone) (Turner) 3.25
10. Blue And Sentimental (with Kay Starr) (Basie/David/Livingston) 3.21
11. New York State Of Mind (with Billy Joel) (Joel) 4.31
12. Undecided Blues (Rushing) 3.18
13. Blues In The Night (Arlen/Mercer) 3.34
14. Stormy Weather (with Natalie Cole) (Arlen/Koehler) 4.34
15. Playin’ With My Friends (Cray/Walker) 4.50
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16. I Left My Heart In San Francisco (with Judy Garland) (Cory/Cross) 3.08

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B.B. King – Live At The Regal (1964)

FrontCover1B.B. King is not only a timeless singer and guitarist, he’s also a natural-born entertainer, and on Live at the Regal the listener is treated to an exhibition of all three of his talents. Over percolating horn hits and rolling shuffles, King treats an enthusiastic audience (at some points, they shriek after he delivers each line) to a collection of some of his greatest hits. The backing band is razor-sharp, picking up the leader’s cues with almost telepathic accuracy. King’s voice is rarely in this fine of form, shifting effortlessly between his falsetto and his regular range, hitting the microphone hard for gritty emphasis and backing off in moments of almost intimate tenderness. Nowhere is this more evident than at the climax of “How Blue Can You Get,” where the Chicago venue threatens to explode at King’s prompting. Of course, the master’s guitar is all over this record, and his playing here is among the best in his long career. Displaying a jazz sensibility, King’s lines are sophisticated without losing their grit. More than anything else, Live at the Regal is a textbook example of how to set up a live performance. Talking to the crowd, setting up the tunes with a vignette, King is the consummate entertainer. Live at the Regal is an absolutely necessary acquisition for fans of B.B. King or blues music in general. A high point, perhaps even the high point, for uptown blues. (by Daniel Gioffre)

B.B.King1964

Personnel:
Johnny Board (saxophone)
Bobby Forte (saxophone)
Sonny Freeman (drums)
Duke Jethro (piano)
B.B. King (guitar, vocals)
Leo Lauchie (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Every Day I Have the Blues (Chatman) 2.38
02. Sweet Little Angel (King/Taub) 4.12
03. It’s My Own Fault (Hooker) 3.29
04. How Blue Can You Get (Feather) 3.44
05. Please Love Me (King/Taub) 3.01
06. You Upset Me Baby (King/Taub) 2.22
07. Worry, Worry (Plumber/Taub) 6.24
08. Woke Up This Mornin’ (King/Taub) 1.45
09. You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now (King/Josea) 4.16
10. Help The Poor (Singleton) 2.58

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B.B.King – Live At The Paramount Theatre, Seattle (1971)

FrontCover1Blues legend BB King has died in Las Vegas at the age of 89, his lawyer has said. Brent Bryson told the Associated Press King died peacefully in his sleep on May 14, 2015 at his home in Las Vegas. He had been suffering ill health in recent months and was recently taken to hospital with a diabetes-related illness. The one-time farmhand brought new fans to the blues and influenced a generation of musicians with his heartfelt vocals and soaring guitar on songs such as The Thrill Is Gone, Lucille, Sweet Black Angel and Rock Me Baby. He played a Gibson guitar he affectionately called Lucille and was a mentor to scores of guitarists including Eric Clapton. He was awarded his 15th Grammy in 2009 in the traditional blues album category for One Kind Favor. Rolling Stone magazine placed him behind only Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Until recently, King performed in at least 100 concerts a year. (Guardian/BBC)

BBKing1971_01“One of the things that enabled BB to have such a profound effect on generations of rock-blues guitarists, from Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix to the present day, was [his music’s] very accessibility – its emotional accessibility in the high-flying, single-string focus of his soloing, and its musical accessibility in the broad range of sources from which he drew,” blues historian Peter Guralnick said in a 2014 interview.

The guitar accounted for only part of Mr King’s popularity. “The World’s Greatest Blues Singer,” as he often was introduced, could shout and exhort the blues in a harsh, blustery baritone like a backwoods preacher, then caress the words with a soft falsetto plea in the same verse. He seamlessly wove his guitar phrases between his vocals almost as though the guitar and his voice were one instrument. He never played while he sang. Lucille always answered his voice but never accompanied it. “He holds the same place in blues as Louis Armstrong did in jazz. He is an ambassador for the music,” Guralnick said. – washingtonpost.com

BBKing1971_03Here is an excellent sounding and complete FM broadcast of BB King at the Paramount Theatre courtesy of taperpat. The recording was done by his friend Dick who recorded this off of KISW-FM using a Sony R-2-R deck when it was originally broadcast sometime in 1972. This is a really hot performance by BB King and especially his backing band, called Sony Freeman And The Unusuals. The backing band’s rendition of Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song) by Otis Redding almost steals the show before BB can even get on stage.

This one really hit me hard. I found out about BB’s passing at about 2 am last night… I only got around to seeing BB once, but it was at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, so that was cool. But now I’m kicking myself for not seeing him several more times. (by peskypesky)

Recorded live at the Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA; May 30, 1971.
Very good FM broadcast.

 BBKing1971_04Personnel:
John Browning (trumpet)
Joseph Burton (trombone)
Sonny Freeman (drums)
Wilbert Freeman (bass)
Milton Hopkins (guitar)
Louis Hubert (saxophone)
B.B. King (guitar, vocals)
Ron Levy (piano)
Earl Turbinton (saxophone)

BBKing1971_02Tracklist:
01. From The Marr-ket Place (Marr/Redd) 2.52
02. Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song) (Redding/Cropper) 3.43
03. Hot Pants (unknown) 6.14
04. Blue Monk/BB King Intro (Monk) 1.09
05. Everyday I Have The Blues (Chatman) 1.37
06. How Blue Can You Get? (J.Feather/L.Feather) 6.48
07. Help The Poor (Singleton) 3.23
08. Whole Lotta Lovin’ 3:15 (5.5MB)
09. Rock Me Baby (King/Taub) 4.19
10. Hummingbird (Russell) 3,53
11. Sweet Sixteen/Lucille (King/Josea/ 13:39 (22.9MB)
12. Band Introduction 1.32
13. The Thrill Is Gone (Hawkings(DArnell) 6.36
14. Just Like A Woman (Demetrius/Moore) 4.03

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B.B. King – Live & Well (1969)

FrontCover1Live & Well is the sixteenth studio album by B. B. King released in 1969. It consists of five tracks recorded “Live” at the Village Gate in New York City, and five additional studio tracks.

Explaining the album’s title, producer Bill Szymczyk wrote in the liner notes, “We got together, what I consider to be, some of the best young blues musicians in the country and locked ourselves in ‘The Hit Factory’ for two nights. The results of those two nights are the “well” side of this album.” (by wikipedia)

Although Live & Well wasn’t a landmark album in the sense of Live at the Regal, it was a significant commercial breakthrough for King, as it was the first of his LPs to enter the Top 100. That may have been because recognition from rock stars such as Eric Clapton had finally boosted his exposure to the White pop audience, but it was a worthy recording on its own merits, divided evenly between live and studio material. King’s always recorded well as a live act, and it’s the concert tracks that shine brightest, although the studio ones (cut with assistance from studio musicians like Al Kooper and Hugh McCracken) aren’t bad. (by Richie Unterberger)

BackCover1Personnel:
Charlie Boles (organ)
Sonny Freeman (drums)
Lee Gatling (saxophone)
Paul “Harry” Harris (piano)
Gerald Jemmott (bass)
B.B. King (guitar, vocals)
Al Kooper (piano)
Herb Lovelle (drums)
Hugh McCracken (guitar)
Val Patillo (bass)
Patrick Williams (trumpet)

Booklet02ATracklist:
01. Don’t Answer The Door (Johnson) 6-14
02. Just A Little Love (King) 5.18
03. My Mood (King) 2.39
04. Sweet Little Angel (King/Taub) 5.03
05. Please Accept My Love (King/Ling) 3.14
06. I Want You So Bad (King) 4.15
07. Friends (King/Szymczyk) 5.37
08. Get Off My Back, Woman (King/Washington) 3.16
09. Let’s Get Down To Business (King) 3.36
10. Why I Sing The Blues (Clark/King) 8.36

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BBKingRiley B.B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015)

We have to thank

R.I.P.