B. B. King – Live At The Regal

It was on a cold night on November 21, 1964, in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, when B. B. King recorded one of the most highly regarded blues albums of all time.

There’s a reason B. B. King is a blues legend. To know that reason, all you need to do is listen to “Live at The Regal”. The blues is meant to be more than just listened to; it’s music that needs to be felt. That cold November night at The Regal Theatre, B. B. King felt it and just as importantly, the audience felt it. Then again when I listen to B. B. King’s distinct voice and guitar, the real question I have to ask with “Live at the Regal” on the turntable is “how could you not?”

John Lennon – Mind Games

After the break up of The Beatles, there was always the big debate among their fans: who was better as a solo artist, John Lennon or Paul McCartney? Although Paul could write exceptionally good pop/rock songs, to me it was always the depth and meaning in John Lennon’s music that made him better.

John Lennon held a firm belief that the right songs could not only change someone’s life but that they could also impact the world. To some, that may seem like an over the top, grandiose sentiment. But not if you consider the legacy of John Lennon and his music.

“Mind Games” is intentionally less politically motivated than Lennon’s two previous solo albums, due in part to the Nixon administration putting Lennon under FBI surveillance and attempting to have him deported from the US because of the political views expressed in his previous albums. Some of his songs had become rally cries against the war in Vietnam.

Eventually, The Watergate scandal would force Nixon to resign from the Presidency and the US court of appeals would rule that Lennon could not be selectively chosen for deportation based on his nonviolent political activism. Lennon eventually became a permanent resident of the US in 1975.

After Lennon’s tragic death in 1980, a 14 year court battle ensued resulting in over 270 pages of FBI documents being declassified and released. They were published in Jon Wiener’s 2000 book “Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files” and for the making of David Leaf’s 2006 documentary “The US vs. John Lennon”.

Joe Cocker!

There are singers, and there are interpreters.

Interpreters are a rare breed of singers. Interpreters don’t need to write their own songs, although they do on occasion; they make any song they sing their own. Interpreters can choose a song that you think could never be done by anyone except the band that first wrote, performed, and made it popular, and turn it into something totally original. They make it unforgettably their own.

Joe Cocker is an interpreter.

Rory Gallagher – Aginst The Grain

Back in the days of vinyl’s first coming, Rolling Stone magazine printed a cover that said “Clapton is God”. Nothing personal against Clapton or Rolling Stone, but in my opinion, it should have said “Gallagher is God”. 

Maybe it was Rory’s Irish heritage that gave him a more emotional style, that you knew he, and more importantly you could feel. Maybe Clapton just tried too hard to make that “one note” feel just right. Whatever it was, whether Rory Gallagher was making his Strat cry in pain, sing in joy, or scream in agony, his playing always came across like a loose and free Irishman, which in comparison, left Clapton sounding somewhat like a stiff and reserved Brit. 

Don’t get me wrong, Clapton was great. It’s just that Rory was better.

‘Nuff said.