I’m sticking with Da Blues theme this afternoon with my second selection as I continue to plow through a couple chapters of ‘Natural Born Heroes‘ by Christopher McDougall and the business end of a new case of Richard’s Red. That selection is the double ‘Together For the First Time…Live’ album featuring B.B. King and Bobby “Blue” Bland.
Released in 1974 on Dunhill Records, this album features the two blues greats playing together for the first time just as the album title suggests at the Western Studios, Studio 1 in Hollywood, California. The two toured together extensively in the 1970’s and 1980’s, which did much to keep their careers alive during a period of otherwise popular decline for the blues genre.
“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. The album though doesn’t exactly “rip”. Both musicians are in fine form, of course, but rarely do any sparks fly. I mean, it’s still a great listen on a cold ass day in May, it’s instructive and exciting to hear King’s guitar supporting another vocalist, particularly a master such as Bland, but it’s not one of those seminal “must have” blues albums.
At times it is equal parts blues (‘Three o’clock in the Morning‘), soul (‘Don’t Want a Soul Hangin’ Round‘), intimate riffs, big groovy horns (‘That’s the Way Love Is‘), house rockin’ music, and down home storytelling. The real interesting thing about this album is that the credits listed on the back album cover, thank a particular Mel Brown who, coincidentally, used to be a regular guest/customer of mine at the Moondance Cafe in Waterloo, Ontario, where I worked through university in the early 90’s.
Huh, small world.