Live at the Apollo is a Blues album by B.B. King and the Phillip Morris "Super Band" recorded at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. It was awarded the 1992 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album.
Onetime rivals for R&B supremacy, the two blues greats hit the road together in the Seventies, where they soon discovered how well their styles complemented one another while bantering with expert comic timing. "Nothing is planned tonight," King announces early in this hour-long set, and whether or not that was true there's a spontaneous but never sloppy spark. It's instructive and exciting to hear King's guitar supporting another vocalist, particularly a master such as Bland.
True, this 1973 vintage best-of album covers a ridiculously slim wedge of time in the blues king's long career. Yet this period was quite significant, for it marks the crest of B.B. King's initial entry into the pop music mass market – and this album surfs succinctly, if not comprehensively, over the high points of his turn-of-the-decade winning streak. There's a potent slice of King's triumphant Live at Cook County – one of his sassiest "How Blue Can You Get?" on records – the huge hit "The Thrill Is Gone" extracts from his surprisingly pleasing early excursions into pop/rock territory on In London and Indianola Mississippi Seeds, and plenty of flavorful electric blues ("Sweet Sixteen," "Why I Sing the Blues") at full length. There are some quirks – "Caldonia" is shortened because one of the unnamed participants on the session demanded the cut, and the "compatible stereo/quad" sound on the LP has some details drastically mixed down when it's played back in ordinary stereo.
Universally hailed as the reigning king of the blues, the legendary B.B. King is without a doubt the single most important electric guitarist of the last half century…
** 1991 GRAMMY Awards, Best Traditional Blues Album - or - Best Traditional Blues Recording **
There are both good and bad points to this CD. Of the latter, the Phillip Morris "Super Band" is confined to background work with – other than a few spots for Plas Johnson's tenor – no soloists being heard from. As an ensemble, the all-star orchestra performs well, but is essentially anonymous. Also, despite the backing, B.B. King does not attempt to play jazz, a wasted opportunity. But, switching to the good points, Live at the Apollo is an excellent example of a strong B.B. King live performance. Somehow he always makes his combination of blues and familiar hits sound fresh. With a liberal amount of space set aside for his guitar solos, B.B. is in top form throughout the well-paced set, which is far superior to most of his overproduced studio sessions for MCA. Even if the big band is mostly irrelevant, this CD is recommended for B.B. King's singing and playing.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow
Let the Good Times Roll: The Music of Louis Jordan is the thirty seventh studio album by B. B. King, released in 1999. It is a tribute album to Jazz/Jump Blues saxophonist and singer Louis Jordan, and is made up entirely of covers of songs written or performed by Jordan. As well as King, the album features other famous jazz and blues musicians including Dr. John, Earl Palmer and members of Ray Charles' band.
2008 collection that compiles the best of BB King's BBC recordings onto one CD for the very first time and includes some of his biggest hits such as 'Paying the Cost to Be the Boss' and 'The Thrill Is Gone' as well as 'When Love Comes To Town'. Featuring highlights from his three finest UK performances alongside a session recording made in the BBC's studios, this CD offer an incredible snapshot of an artist at the peak of his career performing some of his greatest material.