B.B. King - Live at The Regal (1965), 5/10

An experienced and expert take on the blues considering B.B. King’s signature style makes for a great album, and this performance is particularly special. While it is held back by the same set of limitations that many blues records fall prey to, especially a uniform sound and quality, there are a few standout tracks that separate themselves with their vocals or slightly more daring musicality. The performance itself is consistently powerful and drives ahead with genuine feeling, giving the album most of its uniqueness where it cannot be overtly felt otherwise. “How Blue Can You Get?” is a standout track for writing but mostly for King’s performance. The second half of the record is largely uniform just as the first but with a slightly less interesting set of songs. B.B. is clearly at the top of his game for this performance and the band does a decent job of setting the stage for his particular style without becoming intrusive or distracting from the leading man. It would be remiss not to mention his guitar work as well; his solos are unmistakably B.B. King and his influence in this aspect is clear. There have been many imitators but only one true King. While the band is particularly tight and do not hinder the impact of the songs, they don’t really add much either. This is a typically background set of musicians that sound like any other blues band of the sixties. The general quality of a frontloaded track list and an inconsistency in songwriting ingenuity keep Live at the Regal from being one of the very best live blues performances yet B.B. King’s showmanship and energy make it worth its time.