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
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.
B.B. King is not only a timeless singer and guitarist, he's also a natural-born entertainer, and on Live at the Regal the listener is treated to an exhibition of all three of his talents. Over percolating horn hits and rolling shuffles, King treats an enthusiastic audience (at some points, they shriek after he delivers each line) to a collection of some of his greatest hits. The backing band is razor-sharp, picking up the leader's cues with almost telepathic accuracy. King's voice is rarely in this fine of form, shifting effortlessly between his falsetto and his regular range, hitting the microphone hard for gritty emphasis and backing off in moments of almost intimate tenderness. Nowhere is this more evident than at the climax of "How Blue Can You Get," where the Chicago venue threatens to explode at King's prompting. Of course, the master's guitar is all over this record, and his playing here is among the best in his long career. Displaying a jazz sensibility, King's lines are sophisticated without losing their grit.
Freddie King in concert was an event to behold. His performances were powerful and filled with emotional singing coupled with burning soulful licks played on his Gibson 355. The rare footage presented on "Live At The Sugarbowl" features a complete set by Freddie and his band recorded at the Sugarbowl in South Carolina on September 22nd, 1972.