NEW YORK: It's Good To Be King - by J. Blake

Posted on 6/23/2009 by J. Blake

When it comes to the blues, I would imagine that all ‘real’ fans would have a tough time picking just one favorite album. The beautiful thing about the blues is that it encompasses so many different styles and “feelings”. Whether it is the ever familiar sound of the Mississippi Delta, Chicago, Texas or even Britain and whether it swings or cries, it’s still the blues and over the nearly 100 year history of recorded music, the genre has produced (arguably) some the greatest albums ever made.

Like you, I am hard-pressed to pick a favorite blues album, but I can tell you that a certain live album that my brother gave me for Christmas one year, while I was in high school, would definitely be in my top ten. I can’t exactly remember how many blues albums I had before I received this one, but I know it wasn’t many and I know this album in particular was a huge influence on my pursuing a deeper understanding of the genre.

The album is LIVE AT THE REGAL and the artist is the great B.B. King. A Mississippi native, Riley (B.B.) King made his first recordings in 1949 for a Nashville-based company named Bullet. In the 1950’s he became one of the most important names in R&B music with a string of hits and would soon become known as the ‘King of the Blues’. On November 21, 1964 he recorded a live performance at the Regal Theater in Chicago and in 1965 the album made from those recordings was released. To this day it is said by many to be one the greatest blues albums of all time and Rolling Stone Magazine put it as number 141 on their list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Oddly B.B. King is not one of my favorite artists and if I had to pick my favorite ‘King of the Blues’ I would absolutely pick Freddie and even though I think most fans tend to gravitate toward B.B.’s LIVE IN COOK COUNTY JAIL, it is hard to deny the greatness of LIVE AT THE REGAL.

The album opens with a lively introduction and a foot tapping/swinging rendition of Every Day I Have the Blues. King then brings the tempo way down and serenades the audience with arguably the best version of Sweet Little Angel ever recorded, followed by a medley of the artist’s most well known slow hits, where the blues legend takes the audience “way down the alley” with a brilliant combination of spirited vocals, tasteful guitar playing and entertaining anecdotes. B.B. and his magnificent band then decide to swing it like only they can, with exciting versions of Please Love Me and You Upset Me Baby, before winding the show down with a trio of slow blues classics and the soothing rumba beat of Help the Poor.

The album is short, but it is 34 minutes and 46 seconds of pure blues bliss. If you’ve never heard it, I think it’s about time you do and if you haven’t listened it in awhile, it’s time to revisit a classic.

I’d like to hear some opinions from our readers. What do think of this album? What is your favorite B.B. King album? Or just list a few of your favorite blues albums in general. Let’s hear what you have to say!

Keep Rockin',
J. Blake

Check out some NYC Blues with J. Blake & The Earthquake at: or as well as on Facebook.


Copyright © 2009 - J. Blake. All Rights Reserved

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What makes American Blues News unique is our coverage across America. Here is our lineup:

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