Review: The Life of Riley (Soundtrack) - B.B. King


by Andy Snipper

I simply cannot stress how much the sound of B.B. King has been there at the heart of all my history with Blues. I have strayed – John Lee Hooker, Joe Bonamassa, Peter Green, all heroes – but simply cuing up The Thrill Is Gone or Every Day I Have The Blues serves to remind me why I started listening to this music in the first place.

The movie that this is the soundtrack for is immense and charts far more than the history of a Blues musician. King was there all through the hardest times and the he has an intimate understanding of what the Blues is all about. A track like Nobody Love Me But My Mother could sound maudlin until you get the kicker – “but she could be jivin’ too” – now you get a sight of the Blues!

The music on this soundtrack serves as rather more than a ‘best of’ but it does give you all the different sounds of Blues Boy King from his raw Blues to the cabaret and soulful songs like To Know You Is To Love You and chucks in some of the great live material from the Regal theatre – his Live At The Regal Theatre is generally reckoned to be THE essential album for any aspiring Blues player to have in his collection and I cannot disagree.

If this was a ‘best of ... ‘ then I could pick holes in the running order but it is a soundtrack and follows the movie in playing order so it doesn’t fail on that.

You do get a wonderful feeling of the depth of the man’s music here as well as the incredible guitar playing – he picks with all the soul in the world and on a track such as 3 O’Clock Blues he captures you from the off without any of the histrionics of Freddie or Albert King (no relations) – just perfectly played and totally encapsulating the feel of that time of the night. Catfish Blues (Fishing After Me) has a real bounce and as his voice bellows out the lines you can imagine the prideful bull calling his women to his side and proclaiming his mastery over the littler catfish.

The soundtrack is worth owning as a great example of the career one of the greats and as a fabulous album in iots own right but get the movie as well to really get to the heart and history of the man.

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