Kooper Session (1970) by Al Kooper, Shuggie Otis

Categories: 1970 and Music.

Al Kooper tries to capture lightning in a bottle again, replicating the old Super Session format this time with Shuggie Otis and a complementary change in sound. Both halves have their hits and misses but, for me, there is enough here to enjoy, even if this isn’t anything revelatory. The two halves definitely appeal to different tastes too, so that’s something that might put some people off, though I find the gospel and R&B stuff a refreshing change of pace for Kooper. 7/10 Read More

Live in Cook County Jail (1971) by BB King

Categories: 1971 and Music.

Clearly inspired by the seminal Johnny Cash prison albums, this record finds BB and his band performing for a local county prison (so it’s not quite going to a max security place). I like this better than Live at the Regal, but I don’t know whether that’s because of the atmosphere or because of the performances, which feel rawer to me. The whole thing is much more in line with what I was expecting from a blues live album, though BB is still a little too professional for my tastes. 8/10 Read More

Live at the Regal (1965) by BB King

Categories: 1965 and Music.

This record is often thought of as the pinnacle of BB King live records, as far as I know, the record that influenced an absolute ton of guitar players and cemented his reputation as sort of the ambassador for the blues. It’s a little too polished and urbane for me, frankly. I prefer a rougher-edged version of the blues, especially live. And though I understand the appeal (especially the crossover appeal) of something like this, I’m kind of surprised of how…well, what the opposite of gritty, it is. King is a phenomenal player, and obviously hugely influential, not just on Read More

King of the Blues Guitar (1969) by Alberta King

Categories: 1967, 1969, and Music.

This si a reissue of Born Under a Bad Sign (released only two years before), with the addition of a few more tracks (at least the version I am listening to, which has 17 tracks compared to the 11 listed for the original LP). Born Under a Bad Sign was itself a compilation, this time of singles King had recorded when he moved to Stax. One of the reasons the record is so well regarded is because so many blues albums back then apparently lacked strong material. Born Under a Bad Sign is considered to be the first “modern” blues Read More

The Blues Biography (2005) by Lightnin’ Hopkins

Categories: 1946, 1947, 1948, 2005, and Music.

The music on this compilation is good. Let’s get that out of the way. Lightnin Hopkins was a great performer and he did a lot to standardize lyric and performance conventions in post-war blues. He was a pretty great guitar player for the era, and he did some things that sound unconventional to my ears. So that is all great. Lightnin’ Hopkins is someone we should all check out, if we’re interested in the blues. This is not the compilation is not the recording to introduce any of us to him, however. Far as I can tell, this collects his Read More

Together Through Life (2009) by Bob Dylan

Categories: 2009 and Music.

Despite the tossed off nature of this record, Dylan seems to still be pursuing the same sort of project he has been pursuing since his “renaissance” began earlier last decade. The music is a little different here – as someone pointed out it sounds a little like Doug Sahm – and the whole thing seems less momentous, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It should just be pleasant but Dylan’s lyrics are, as usual, well above average, and the backing band is great too. Like it more than I think I should. 7/10 Read More