Recorded in 1971, but unreleased in the U.S. until 1999, B.B. King's Live in Japan deserves high marks for exuberance alone. Had Live in Cook County Jail not just jumped into the charts, this live album might have been released long ago. The recording opens with a swelling of enthusiastic cheers, as King launches into an uptempo "Every Day I Have the Blues." There are plenty of other classics here as well, including "How Blue Can You Get?", "Sweet Sixteen," and "The Thrill Is Gone" (which elicits another round of cheering from the opening notes). Live in Japan may not have the long-standing reputation of Cook County Jail or Live at the Regal, but it's an excellent album, with a decidedly different feel from these two classics. King's obvious enthusiasm for his music and for his audience is infectious, and you can hear the sheer joy of it in every note. And, for those who don't really feel that they need additional versions of well-known songs, let it be mentioned that Live in Japan contains King's only live rendition of "Hummingbird," not to mention a couple of unique jams ("Japanese Boogie," "Jamming at Sankei Hall," and "Hikari #88").
Here it is: the Spinal Tap-like, end-of-career live album recorded on that final Japanese tour. Everybody's done it, and Night Ranger certainly doesn't break the mold with this efficient greatest-hits set…
Originally released on LP only in Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia, this 1980 live album captures Rita Coolidge at the height of her powers and international popularity, and with a crack band featuring Booker T. Jones, Michael Warren, Salvatore Guglielmi, Mike Utley, Richard Adelman, Phyllis Battell and Carlena Williams. The set list is just killer, with big hits from throughout her career, like "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher," "I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love," a solo version of her then-current hit duet with Glen Campbell, "Somethin' 'Bout You, Baby I Like," her smash version of the Chiffons' "One Fine Day," "Fever," and "Fool That I Am." And for an "encore," we have rounded up five studio tracks that never surfaced outside of Japan. A long-lost delight from the Rita Coolidge catalog!
Väsen have been around for well over a decade, refining their sound and producing a series of delightful albums, first for their Swedish home market and then finding a global audience. Just how far they reach now is evident from the fact they recorded this live disc in Japan. The humor in their sound is more evident live, but the delightful interplay between nyckelharpa, fiddle, and guitar is apparent throughout, right from the opener, "Björkbergspolskan." The material largely draws from their last two discs, which is fine – those albums were two of the best of their lengthy career.