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Late Doors

Life of Riley.

Riley B King that is. aka Blues Boy King of Beale Street Memphis. BB King to the rest of the world.

Great film come documentary come life story of this extraordinary man. Morgan Freedman whom i always liken to BB does a little bit of his trademark understated narrative with massive reverberation. A perfect match for BB's trademark guitar sound. Instantly recognizable from the merest fragment of it. There is no rational explanation of how so little can contain do much.

What a story as well and as usual with tales of 20th century Southern State black culture had me fuming, sickened and sad all at the same time. No man, no matter how hard he tries, no matter how much he empathises can understand the plight of black Americans of that time. Truly sickening and what a testimony to their infinite collective strength and spirit that throughout it they made the greatest music the world has ever heard, well certainly that i have ever heard. I can't even imagine their circumstances simply just love the music and interpret  the imagery it throws up .

the film tells the tale of young Riley's agricultural worker mainly parentless upbringing with interviews and archive scratchy black and white film. Friends and family tell unremarkable tales and everyday stories of their lives and memories of BB. There is a little insight into the music scene and business of the time along with some connections to other great bluesmen but the story focuses mainly on BB's drift into greatness. No luck, no backstabbing just pure unique talent.

It also gives a good run down of the history of the blues particularly the Brit led and inspired resurrection but it's when the man himself talks that the film takes on a wonderful warmth. He is clearly loved by all those close to him and it is so easy to see why.

Unassuming can sometimes appear false but when BB tells Bono he can't play chords during a rehearsal there is an earth shattering schism between genuine greatness and pretentious posturing. Full marks to U2 for their collaboration but the contrast cracked me up. Same again when BB recalls his time playing acoustic guitar with Alexis Korner and vowed never to play again after been torn up twice by him, the second time when he was deceased.

It's true, technically he isn't very accomplished but what he does no one has come close to. Even when he casually and simply explains what he is doing with his guitar it remains a mystery to even the best guitarists,  a genuine bona fide musical maverick genius. When he strikes those strings , pumps those lungs and unleashes his soul the whole world knows who it is. As Carlos Santana said. If you turned the sound off you could tell you what he is playing just by looking at him.

On t' I Player  BBC4 open to non council house tennents
Plastic Man

Re: Life of Riley.

Late Doors wrote:
.... but when BB tells Bono he's a grade A cunt who can't play chords during a rehearsal...


One can only admire Mr King for his frank candour on the matter.
Dock

Good review LD. I'd love to see that. Did I ever tell you about the time I saw BB King play at his own club on Beale Street? I think I did, but as gigs by legends go its worth mentioning again innit. Talk about right time right place.

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