Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Live Now Appearing at Ole Miss
Genres: Blues, Pop, Rock
Listen to Samples
A great performance completely messed up in the mix
Dave | 07/28/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This concert was a GREAT performance by B.B. to a wildly appreciative audience. I know, I was there. BUT when I first got the album, I was SO disappointed. The quality of the live recording is disappointing enough, but the instrumentation added in the studio (strings, percussion, etc.) completely undermines the feeling of the music. It's painful for me to listen to this album, knowing how good it COULD have sounded. Buy Live at the Regal and Live in Cook County Jail instead."
Flaws aside, this truly captures the essence of B.B. King
Dave | United States | 11/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was an album my dad happened to have in his large record collection--curious, I pulled it out & began listening to it. This was more than a few years ago. Of course I'd heard of B.B. King at the time, but it was with this album that I seriously gave his music--and the blues in general, for the matter--a listen for the first time. It wasn't long before I understood why this guy is considered the King of the Blues. This 2 CD live album, originally released as a double LP in 1980, conclusively demonstrates B.B.'s winning enthusiasm & charisma in a live setting.
He weaves in highly entertaining spoken monologues into the "Blues Medley" on disc 1. They're filled with self-depreciating wit and humor, and they brilliantly complement the songs themselves. B.B. sounds completely natural and unforced and puts his winning humbleness on full display.
B.B.'s got a wonderful, full & rich guitar tone going throughout the album, & his playing, though a tad stiff at times, is mostly terrific anyway. The instrumental "When I'm Wrong" is a perfect demonstration of the kind of soulfulness he captures with his guitar playing.
He's also in incredible peak form vocally on here, singing with great power but without the overslick highness you occasionally encounter on earlier recordings, or the overly weatherbeaten vocals that begin to creep in another decade down the line.
On "I Got Some Outside Help", a song about being cheated on, B.B. starts by delivering a terrific guitar performance, and then proceeds to unleash a riveting, perfectly phrased vocal, and the result is cathartic. "Never Make A Move Too Soon" is given a great, crisp, driving uptempo treatment that contrasts with the slyly laidback studio version from his 1978 "Midnight Believer" album. The feel-good "Rock Me Baby" and the swinging, uptempo, upbeat "Caldonia" are irresistible. The tender "Darlin' You Know I Love You" with its strong vocal and soulful song-ending guitar solo, is undeniably charming, as is the brief version of "Guess Who" which B.B. uses as a tribute to his fans. The 10+ minute, mostly instrumental version of "The Thrill Is Gone" is great as well--his guitar work is so supremely enjoyable, & the backing musicians are so solid & sympathetic to the material that it's arresting even as it runs on for over 10 minutes.
Despite all the great performances, there is some bad news with this album that mars it considerably. The album credits include the 'Sweetenings Percussion & Rhythm' of Nana Vasconcelos on percussions & Jon Jones on rhythm guitar, and presumably, between the two of them, they're responsible for subsequently overdubbing all kinds of ridiculous noises onto the album, including the 'boing'-y sound on "Darlin' You Know I Love You", the "woo"s that run throughout "Rock Me Baby", and the aimless, rambling, shockingly tasteless guitar on the verses of a drastically flawed version of "Hold On" (it appears on his 1978 "Midnight Believer" album in a strong studio version). In addition to this, on the opening & closing tracks, you get a hilariously obnoxious announcer who does a forced-sounding B.B. imitation near the beginning of the album. There is also some distracting noise that crops up on the "Blues Medley" and "Three O'Clock In The Morning" as if they were having some technical difficulties during the performance.
The ridiculously inappropriate noises that plague "'Now Appearing' at Ole Miss" are indeed a crime. If you took out the 4 or 5 weakest tracks here, subtracted the ridiculous overdubbed annoyances, polished up the recording quality just a hair, and slapped it all onto 1 CD, it'd make this one of the best CDs of all time. As it is, I still treasure the album dearly and have an undeniable soft spot for it--B.B. King is frequently spotlighted at his absolute best here, which is saying a LOT. Try to snap this up at a reasonable price."