The combination of King and the well-oiled Philly rhythm section that powered hits by the O'Jays, Spinners, and Stylistics proved a surprisingly adroit one. Two huge hits came from this album, the Stevie Wonder/Syreeta Wright-penend title track and "I Like to Live the Love," both of them intriguing updates of King's tried-and-true style.
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.
** 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
Live album recorded January 10th 1972 for broadcast on KMET Los Angeles. In the early 1970s, B.B. King was basking in the glow of crossover success, his brand of soulful blues reaching all audiences, not just African-American ones. On this 75-minute radio broadcast from 1972, his stinging guitar paces a mix of old and new classics, from his mid-‘50s R&B hit “Everyday I Have the Blues” to Leon Russell’s “Hummingbird”. Other highlights include the standard “Rock Me Baby” and his biggest hit, “The Thrill Is Gone”. (Note: There are different releases of these recordings, mentioning different dates for when this radio show was broadcasted. Some say October 1st, 1972, whilst this one says January 10th.)
Released the week of B.B. King's 80th birthday, 80 is a star-studded duets album, the first B.B. released since 1997's Deuces Wild. It was recorded in a variety of locations in the spring of 2005 and features a variety of guest artists, ranging from the familiar (Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Bobby Bland) to the unsurprising (Billy Gibbons, Mark Knopfler, Elton John, Sheryl Crow) to the frankly bewildering (John Mayer, Daryl Hall, Gloria Estefan)…