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54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best live album ever from the King
Of the many outstanding live albums B.B. King has recorded, 1971's "Live In Cook County Jail", stands out on top. For many, the 1964 release "Live At The Regal" (both were recorded in Chicago) is not only considered B.B's best live album it is considered the best live blues album ever. However, there is a rugged maturity evident on "Live In...
Published on January 6, 2000 by MilesAndTrane

versus
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Remastered ??
The content is, what there is of it, is entertaining.BB has always been more of an entertainer / singer /than guitarist to me and he does a lot of talking & relating to his captive audience.For this to be a good show - it should be twice as long and some of his better tunes shouldn't be in a medley.The remastering sounds to me like someone put the LP on a cheap turntable...
Published on April 20, 2012 by Rattlebone


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54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best live album ever from the King, January 6, 2000
By 
MilesAndTrane (Chicago, Il USA) - See all my reviews
Of the many outstanding live albums B.B. King has recorded, 1971's "Live In Cook County Jail", stands out on top. For many, the 1964 release "Live At The Regal" (both were recorded in Chicago) is not only considered B.B's best live album it is considered the best live blues album ever. However, there is a rugged maturity evident on "Live In Cook County Jail" that escapes any earlier live recordings. By the time B.B. got to Cook County Jail, he knew exactly what to play. His throat (and Lucille's) are more vicious, honest & cutting than ever. Other than that, the inmates booing the warden at Cook County seem more appropriate for a blues album rather than the teenage girls screaming at the Regal. His rendition of "How Blue Can You Get" is his most hilarious ever, as the inmates cheer him on. The 'Cook County' version of "The Thrill Is Gone" also indicates that it was performed at a time when B.B. really knew how to sing the song, yet the delivery doesn't sound like he's sung it a million times already.
This album also features B.B. & band with a raw, organic quality that would become absent from his more polished 90's live albums. Just look at the album cover; the hurt expression on his face, the jail bars & burnt brick behind him, and the photo's blue tint. They say it all. "Live In Cook County Jail" is one mean blues album, and the King's finest hour captured onstage.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent King, January 23, 2003
By A Customer
This is an excellent cd. My problems with the cd are there is too much talking with the audience on Worry Worry Worry (over 5 minutes) and that gets uninteresting after a listen or two. Also the cd is too short. Once you take out the track 1 intro, the long Worry Worry talk session and the schmoozy closing song, there is only about 20 minutes left. But a powerful 20 minutes it is. I prefer Live in Japan where the focus is on soulful singing and searing guitar. Note: I also thought there was too much talking with the audience on Regal, another excellent live recording, but somewhat flawed. Cook County and Live in Japan have the best versions of Thrill Is Gone I have found.
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44 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ten Reasons to Buy This Album, March 24, 2001
By 
Tom (Palatine, IL USA) - See all my reviews
10. It's B.B. King 9. You get to hear prisoners booing the warden. 8. There is something about Cook County and the blues. 7. This is absolutely one of the best live albums ever recorded - blues or otherwise. 6. There are no cuts on this album, just one nice, long, smooth concert. 5. "Everyday I Have the Blues" is the quintessential blues tune. 4. B.B.'s band is in fabulous form. 3. Lucille. 2. This is about the best "The Thrill is Gone," anywhere. 1. It's B.B. King
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overrated, January 1, 2003
By 
Charles J. Edwards (Arlington, VA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I am a real B.B. King fan, but this album is simply overrated: this is certainly not a "desert island" disk, nor does it showcase B.B. King's guitar all that much. The problem is that there just is not a whole lot of guitar playing going on. The set is very, very short, and while the celebrated introduction (full of inmates booing the warden) is amusing once or twice, it gets boring after you've played the disk a dozen times. The "admonitory dialogue" in Worry, Worry, Worry is also very long.
I've listened to the disk a couple of dozen times trying to find out what elevates it to legendary status, and I always reach the end thinking, "Is that it? What's the big deal?"
What guitar-playing is there, is quite good, and B.B.'s voice was in fine form. All in all, it's a good sample of a good B.B. King concert. I am only rating it four stars however, just to introduce a little reality into this forum. If you want to hear a B.B. King concert with a LOT of guitar-playing, get the underrated "Blues is King" album from 1967. For sheer intensity, nothing matches his "Completely Well" studio album, of course.
Chuck Edwards
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arguably B.B. King's Best, January 13, 2006
Fans often call B.B. King the king of the blues guitar, but if B.B. were only a brilliant guitarist he wouldn't be a household name for decades. B.B. King is also a powerful singer, a terrific interpreter of others' material, an effective bandleader and - most importantly - a thoroughly professional entertainer. You can experience all B.B. King's sides on the "Cook County Jail" CD.

Virtually every cut on the CD is a powerhouse. Although the Cook County Jail setting might lead one to expect that B.B. King would play up the outlaw aspects of the blues (the way that Johnny Cash did with his prison LPs), B.B. takes the opposite approach. He delivers a well-rehearsed and utterly professional show. It must have seemed a revelation to rock fans, as most blues-rock concerts at the time were notoriously sloppy affairs. But it's what we expect from B.B. King. He may define himself as a bluesman, but B.B. applied many lessons learned from tight jazz combos.

For the uninitiated, the strong performances of B.B. King's best-known hits "Sweet Sixteen" and the "Thrill is Gone" will be the selling points, but every track has its delights. For me, the strongest moment comes with "How Blue Can You Get?" Here, we clearly get to experience how B.B. King is able to feed off the energy of a responsive audience, to the point where the inmates are practically bandmembers. When we hear their laughter and applause, we know that B.B. King has won over one of the most difficult audiences to please. Every solo on the CD is well-constructed, and at no time does B.B. allow himself to become self-indulgent.

The CD's short running time is the only deficit. While appropriate for an early 1970s LP, this is one short concert by modern CD standards. It would be nice to see this CD reissued with material cut from the original release (as is the usual trend for live album reissues), but there is no denying this is one of the very few live albums worth revisiting again and again. It belongs in the collection of anyone who truly loves post-war blues.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Recipe For a Blues Album, January 14, 2003
There is a very unique feature to this album which many listeners over look. Many who listen to this album are keying in on the artist, the music selected, and the quality of its execution. Only some are paying attention to the communication between King, and his audience. Prison inmates have very little to look forward to, much less appreciate in their untimely incarceration. To have the opportunity to listen to B.B. King with their wives with them is a treat to say the least. On the other hand, it is also a treat for King to entertain the very people who have admired him for years, but could never see him, especially while they are in prison. Such is the recipe for a perfect blues concert; a responsive audience, and a sensitive performer.
The beauty of this album is not so much the music, but the dialogue between King and the inmates. Through his voice, and lucille, he is speaking to the inmates, empathisizing with them, and giving them an experience to remember when they go back to their cells.
To their credit, the inmates are genuinely responsive to the music, and in return, the music is responsive to them. This is the perfect environment for a classic blues presentation. Listen for the sincerity in King when he speaks to his audience. Listen for the soft and floating blues rifts from lucille. Listen not for what you would expect from a studio cut album, or a live show in an uptown night club; Listen for the emotion expressed for those who have longed for this show, and will remember it for along time to come. It is for them that King came to do the show, not to cut one more album for us to listen to. In the process, he has brought to our attention how important it is to reach out to those who are in prison, and not leave them forgotten.
Every time I listen to this album (and I only have an old tape copy I made 25 years ago ), I listen for this dialogue, and appreciate the warmth of the performer, and the response from the audience. King speaks through his music, and the audience speaks through their responsive admiration.
If you own this already, listen for what I speak of. If you dont, grab it, and experience why it is one of his greatest albums.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blues you have GOT to have, September 30, 2003
I had this record in the '70's. I bought the CD in the '80's and I have never gotten tired of listening to it. This is one of the best all time CDs, blues of otherwise. My favorite BB King CD, and that is saying a great deal. Thank you BB!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of BB King, September 17, 2005
This CD captures the very essence of what makes Blues Boy King the King of the Blues. The power of BB's music thunders througout the CD. This album has the best rendition of "The Thrill is Gone" I have ever heard, and I've heard just about all the versions he has done over the years. You can almost see him crooning to the microphone with his eyes closed, and Lucille gives this song so much more with her solo at the end. If anything buy this CD for the "The Thrill is Gone"; as soon as you get it turn it up, sit down and close your eyes...
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The King at his best!, March 4, 2002
When people talk about B.B. King's greatest albums they normally narrow the fight down to two albums: Live at the Regal and Live in Cook County Jail. For years blues fans have fought about who is the better of these two blues heavyweights. However any way you slice out Cook County Jail is the clear favorite.
The main reason that I think this is the superior recording is that it captures the King at his peak as a guitar player. This album is the reason he is one of the greatest guitar players ever. In the Regal he depended too much on his horns group, so we didn't hear enough of Lucille.
Then there's B.B. the performer. Something about these 2000 some odd prison inmates gave the King a buzz that night, because he was very loose that day, having fun with the crowd and going through fantastic versions of How Blue Can You Get, Worry Worry, Three 'o' Clock Blues, and (most notably) the always essential The Thrill is Gone. All coming with a flair that only he could have produced.
There are some albums that a blues fan should simply own so that he can declare himself a blues fan. Cook County Jail makes one. Live at the Regal makes two. Both are all time classics, and represent B.B. King at his all time greatest. So if you love great blues, jazz, and soul meshed together, which normally means you love great music, then you must own these two CDs. You ain't a blues fan if you don't.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars B.B. and Lucille, live and great as ever, April 27, 2000
By A Customer
Live in Cook County Jail is a wonderful live B.B. King record. I have only two complaints: The songs are soooooo short! Everyday I Have The Blues is like one minute long! The CD ends way too quickly. Also, B.B.'s live records tend to feature the same songs over and over. Several of the songs on Live In Cook County Jail can be found on Live At The Regal, and they're performed in very much the same way. Having said that, though, any live B.B. is great. His voice and guitar are amazing as always, and he has a great rapport with his audience (even when it consists of prison inmates).
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Live In Cook County Jail
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