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The Life and Music of BB King

International blues ambassador B.B. King passed away in May. Jim and Greg celebrate the life and music of the great guitarist with a classic album dissection of Live at the Regal.

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Jim and Greg kick off the show by celebrating the life of another great artist: saxophonist and free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman, dead at the age of 85. While critics sometimes loosely toss around phrases about musicians changing music, in this case, it is an undisputed truth. Coleman forever set jazz on an entirely new path, with an influence spreading into the world of rock, as well. Artists like Patti Smith, The Velvet Underground, and Sonic Youth all stood in the shadow of Coleman's innovations. He developed a musical philosophy he called "harmolodics," which set aside the traditional approach of adhering to chord changes and instead created intricately layered melodies that favored each instrument equally. Though sometimes dismissed as dissonant noise, Greg contends that Coleman had one of the greatest ears for melody in music. As an example of Ornette's unique approach to ensemble playing, Greg plays "Jump Street" from Ornette Coleman's 1979 album Of Human Feelings.

classic album dissectionLive At the RegalLive at the Regal available on iTunes

B.B. King Live at the Regal

B.B. King was the face of the blues for much of the world. Sadly, we'll never get to hear him play his trusty guitar Lucille again. He passed away on May 14, 2015 at age 89. To honor the late great bluesman, we're offering a Classic Album Dissection of his Live at the Regal concert album, recorded in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood in 1964. Jim and Greg are joined by photographer, writer, promoter and Blues Hall of Fame inductee Dick Waterman. Waterman was a long-time friend of B.B.'s and co-author of The B.B. King Treasures. He explains that while King was pleased that Live at the Regal achieved iconic status, he didn't think there was anything special about his performance that night. Had they taped any other show around that time, the results would have been much the same. Still, the masterful control that B.B. had over his raucous crowd that evening became legendary. For Jim, the album resembles a celebratory church service more than any depressing blues stereotype.

If B.B. King's on-stage persona is that of a humble, genial man, that's because he truly was one in real life. According to Waterman, B.B. devoted hours after each show to meeting with his fans as a show of appreciation for their contribution to his success. Even after the mainstream commercial success of "The Thrill is Gone," he always stayed true to his vision, never watering it down for his new white audience. He was one of the last of his generation of blues artists, but his legacy is going to live on.

reviewStillStill available on iTunes

Richard Thompson Still

Still is the 25th solo album from folk rock guitarist, Richard Thompson. The former Fairport Convention musician collaborated with Wilco frontman and producer Jeff Tweedy. Greg wasn‘t exactly disappointed, but a little let down after Thompson’s ferocious 2013 album, Electric. In Still, he explores some darker and more serious themes like loss of faith in humanity. However Greg was happy he balanced those tracks with lighter and more humorous songs like "Guitar Heroes." He gives it a Buy It. Jim actually found“Guitar Heroes”cheesy. He also doesn't think Tweedy added much in his production. But because of wins like "Josephine" and "Long John Silver," Jim says Buy It.

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Jim

Recently Jim re-watched David Lynch's '90s supernatural TV show Twin Peaks. The program uniquely incorporated music to complement its twisted murder-mystery storyline. Singer-songwriter Julee Cruise frequently offered her vocals to the show's soundtrack and collaborated with producer Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti on her debut album Floating into the Night. The single "Falling," featuring Lynch's haunting lyrics and Badalamenti's dark composition, was used as the theme song for Twin Peaks throughout its run and remains one of Jim's favorite tracks.

Featured Songs

  1. Ornette Coleman, Lonely Woman, The Shape of Jazz to Come, Atlantic, 1959
  2. Ornette Coleman, Jump Street, Of Human Feelings, Antilles, 1982
  3. B.B. King, Everyday I Have the Blues, Live at the Regal, ABC, 1965
  4. B.B. King, How Blue Can You Get?, Live at the Regal, ABC, 1965
  5. B.B. King, You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now, Live at the Regal, ABC, 1965
  6. B.B. King, Worry Worry, Live at the Regal, ABC, 1965
  7. B.B. King, Sweet Little Angel, Live at the Regal, ABC, 1965
  8. B.B. King, It's My Own Fault, Live at the Regal, ABC, 1965
  9. B.B. King, You Upset Me Baby, Live at the Regal, ABC, 1965
  10. B.B. King, Woke Up This Morning (My Baby's Gone), Live at the Regal, ABC, 1965
  11. B.B. King, Help the Poor, Live at the Regal, ABC, 1965
  12. B.B. King, You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now, Live at the Regal, ABC, 1965
  13. B.B. King, The Thrill is Gone, Completely Well, ABC, 1969
  14. B.B. King, See That My Grave is Kept Clean, One Kind Favor, Geffen, 2008
  15. Richard Thompson, She Never Could Resist a Winding Road, Still, Fantasy Records, 2015
  16. Richard Thompson, No Peace No End, Still, Fantasy Records, 2015
  17. Richard Thompson, Guitar Heroes, Still, Fantasy Records, 2015
  18. Julee Cruise, Falling, Falling (Single), Warner Bros., 1990
  19. St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Call Me, Half the City, Single Rock Records, 2014
  20. Courtney Barnett, Elevator Operator, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, Mom + Pop Music, 2015
  21. Desert Mountain Tribe, Comin Down, Ep, Self-released, 2014
  22. Colleen Green, TV, I Want to Grow Up, Hardly Art, 2015
  23. Todd Rundgren, Rise, Global, Esoteric Antenna, 2015
  24. The Collection, The Gown of Green, Ars Moriendi, Flesh & Bone Records, 2014

Footnotes

ornettecoleman.com Ornette Coleman nytimes.com Coleman obit soundopinions.org Rock Fan's Guide to Jazz bbking.com B.B. King chicagotribune.com Greg's B.B. King obit soundopinions.org B.B. King obit on Sound Opinions dickwaterman.com Dick Waterman richardthompson-music.com Richard Thompson