The Showman vs The Bluesman - B.B. King, Live at the Regal and Live in Japan

Discussion in 'Music to Your Ears' started by TokyoPortrait, Oct 21, 2019.

  1. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Tele-Holic

    Dec 10, 2017
    Tokyo, Japan

    I guess this is kinda apropos the “Stage act / habitus?” thread,* although I started thinking about posting this before that thread.

    I’ve been revisiting two of B.B. King’s live albums - Live at the Regal (1965) and Live in Japan (1971).

    Both are stellar recordings of King & band live. But they’re also quite different.

    Live at the Regal highlights the showman, working the crowd, building a rapport based on shared experience and knowledge. It has that slick, polished show-band kind of performance. And I mean that in the good way.

    Playing in Japan, there was a language barrier and Live in Japan reflects that. Gone (mostly) is the patter and the audience recognition of and reaction to the word play in the lyrics, etc. That element of the show is replaced by more focus on the music, where King and band lay in to some songs more, stretch out more, and even jam. They seem, to me at least, to be feeling the blues in the music more.

    But, that’s not to say they aren’t feeling the music in Live at the Regal. They’re still cooking and feeling it, I just think they’re feeling the whole joy of performing on Live at the Regal, whereas the focus is more narrowly concentrated on the music with Live in Japan. It’s like the crowd interaction component has gone, so that energy shifts over to find release in the music. Or something.

    If that makes any sense. Proving quite hard to articulate. Not my original observation I should add, but I concur.

    You can hear this difference especially in the song How Blue Can You Get, and the different reactions (or, reaction and non-reaction) to the section that ends in the line “I gave you seven children / And now you want to give them back.”

    Anyway, here’s how Blue Can You Get from Live at the Regal.

    And once again, from Live in Japan.

    Some general info from Wikipedia.

    And, as a bonus, here’s BB King performing the same song as part of a prison concert he did with Joan Baez in 1972 or 1973, depending on where you read about it.

  2. Teleguy61

    Teleguy61 Friend of Leo's

    May 17, 2010
    Eastern Massachusetts
    Live at the Regal is one of my all-time great album faves.
    "Help the Poor"--oh yeah!
    TokyoPortrait likes this.
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