Mighty Blue Kings
Live In Chicago
I went to a Mighty Blue Kings show a while ago not knowing the first thing about the band except that I heard they played a little swing. A week later, I was listening non-stop to their two albums, using them to teach swing dancing, telling everyone to buy their stuff, and pretty much had put myself into an all-around frenzy about this band that I hadn’t a clue about a week previously. That’s right, they’re that good live. Their sky-rocketing energy level, constant audience participation, brilliant musicianship, and the embracing atmosphere that the band creates makes a live show from the Mighty Blue Kings more than just a show… it’s an event to write home about. So, even after only two studio albums — neither of which were helped along by a major label — it’s really no surprise that the Kings would go ahead and release a live album from their hometown, Chicago.
So, is it possible to convey such a powerful performance aura on a compact disc? Of course, it’s never the same as it would be standing amongst the crowd, but the Kings did a damn good job of capturing the feel of the music as best they could. Be it their upbeat swingy tunes or soulful bluesy numbers, you’ll find yourself almost cheering along with the crowd at the end of each song. The CD is filled with favorites from their previous albums, such as “Don’t Let Go” and “Buzz, Buzz, Buzz,” along with five new ones, including a great Jimi Hendrix cover, “Manic Depression.” The new material is absolutely brilliant, keeping with the Mighty Blue Kings style mix of swing, blues, R&B, and jazz, and the integration of Chris Forman on the organ gives the band yet another layer of brilliance. Of the thirteen songs on the album, only one of them, “Green Grass Grows All Around,” is a mild disappointment, since its purpose is really to please the live crowd with all kinds of bodily gestures that make the sole listening of the song on an album semi-boring.
Somewhere in the middle of the album, as lead vocalist Ross Bon is bantering with the crowd, my friend turned to me and said “That’s not his real voice, is it?” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that IS Ross Bon’s real voice. It’s as smooth as this album is, which makes the Mighty Blue Kings’ Live In Chicago one of the greatest swing/blues records I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. Well, that is, since I got a hold of their last two. R-Jay Records, P.O. Box 577670, Chicago, IL 60657