The combination of King and the well-oiled Philly rhythm section that powered hits by the O'Jays, Spinners, and Stylistics proved a surprisingly adroit one. Two huge hits came from this album, the Stevie Wonder/Syreeta Wright-penend title track and "I Like to Live the Love," both of them intriguing updates of King's tried-and-true style.
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.
Onetime rivals for R&B supremacy, the two blues greats hit the road together in the Seventies, where they soon discovered how well their styles complemented one another while bantering with expert comic timing. "Nothing is planned tonight," King announces early in this hour-long set, and whether or not that was true there's a spontaneous but never sloppy spark. It's instructive and exciting to hear King's guitar supporting another vocalist, particularly a master such as Bland.
True, this 1973 vintage best-of album covers a ridiculously slim wedge of time in the blues king's long career. Yet this period was quite significant, for it marks the crest of B.B. King's initial entry into the pop music mass market – and this album surfs succinctly, if not comprehensively, over the high points of his turn-of-the-decade winning streak. There's a potent slice of King's triumphant Live at Cook County – one of his sassiest "How Blue Can You Get?" on records – the huge hit "The Thrill Is Gone" extracts from his surprisingly pleasing early excursions into pop/rock territory on In London and Indianola Mississippi Seeds, and plenty of flavorful electric blues ("Sweet Sixteen," "Why I Sing the Blues") at full length. There are some quirks – "Caldonia" is shortened because one of the unnamed participants on the session demanded the cut, and the "compatible stereo/quad" sound on the LP has some details drastically mixed down when it's played back in ordinary stereo.