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Life of Riley [Blu-ray] [Import]

Blu-ray
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
A great portrayal of of the life of blues icon BB King. A must have for fans of the blues!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BD review - In-depth doc on the nearly-90 year old blues icon - with great bonus footage June 11 2014
By Steven I. Ramm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
It's hard to belief that blues Legend B.B. King will turn 90 years-old next year and still tours the world, "three weeks on; three weeks off". Until recently he would play over 300 nights each year.

Surprisingly, no one had made a filmed bio of his life and career - until now, that is. This new film (2014) has been making rounds of the film festivals and now comes to home video on Bluray and DVD (and there is a companion CD as well - from universal Music Group. (I was provided an advance screener of the BD). (UPDATE 6/17- There will not be a physical CD release of the soundtrack; it will only be available as download with no notes or booklet.)

This is a must see for anyone interested in the blues, whether pioneers like Robert Johnson, Bukka White (B.B. King's cousin) or the other famous blues "King"s - Albert and Freddie, or even "the next generation" like Clapton, Jonny Lang or Derek Trucks. Director Jon Brewer weaves some archival interviews with lots of contemporary ones along with historic photos (most, it seems from the B.B. King Museum in Mississippi). Brewer got nearly every one you can think of (and some who don't often give interviews) to sit down and tell their stories. Let me start with just a FEW folks who he got on camera: Ringo Starr, LeonRRussell, Dr. John, Joe Walsh, Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Bonnie Raitt, Peter Green, Rufus Thomas, Johnny Winter, Slash, Carlos Santana, Bono, Aaron Nevelle, Susan Teseschi, Derek Trucks and Micj Taylor. Impressed? You should be. Most has a chance to play with, or record with King.

But there are not just celebrities here. B.B.'s 2nd wife discusses the effect of his touring on their marriage and relatives and original band members are here too.

The basic film ruins 123 minutes and that is long for a documentary. But Brewer had to leave almost 30 minutes of interviews (with the celebrities) on the cutting room floor and there are 13 bonus interviews - each just over two minutes - in the "Bonus section". The other bonus feature is "Live at Royal Albert Hall" which has King singing (not playing) the traditional song "See That My Grave is Kept Clean", with a NOLa beat, on stage with Tedeschi, Trucks, Ron Wood, and Slash, followed by his major hit "The Thrill Is Gone", where he plays Lucille but leaves the solos to Slash. This clip runs about eight minutes. Since the documentary has no room for full performances, these two numbers give you a chance to hear a whole song.

The visuals and sound on the BD are great. The BD and DVD are not being released by any of the major video labels but, rather, by Music Video Distributors. This title is a real coup for MVD. (I'm not sure why the majors didn't grab it.) As noted above "Mr. King" - and Lucille - are still touring and still making music. As King says in the most recent interviews included (many King interviews over a 30 year period are expertly pieced together by Brewer to address an issue), he'll just keep playing till he just can't play no more.

Five Stars all the way!

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.
Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! I, foolishly, thought that I knew everything about BB King....because of what I read or heard. I didn't! May 31 2014
By Dj - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Excellent.....

Starts with BB's birth; progresses thru youth and exposure to hearing and playing music; to performing locally and....eventually...performing all over the word.

Ends with thoughts about his end of life.

I felt every emotion available to me. I am going to buy a few. This man has influenced world wide musicians; has met presidents, religious leaders, etc......AND HAS REMAINED HUMBLE. In fact, every year he returns to his "little" hometown.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The first half is great - the second half is mediocre. July 27 2014
By Alf Katz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This is a full length biography of one of the greatest and most influential blues artists of the 20th century. The first half of the documentary will be enjoyed by diehard blues fans telling the story of B.B.'s rise from a shack in Mississippi to become the most popular and succesful blues artist with African-American audiences including interviews with family, friends, fellow musicians and Joe Bihari, one of the owners of Modern, where B.B. had his many great early hits. Much of the commentary is by B.B. himself drawing on recent and vintage interviews with some of the gaps being filled by Morgan Freeman. By the time he had recorded his groundbreaking live album "Live At The Regal" he was beginning to get recognition by white audiences and in particular the English blues and blue-rock bands and much of commentary in the second half of the documetary is with members of the Rolling Stones, Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Jonny Lang, Bono, Bruce Willis and many more. Obviously these people are significant to B.B.'s later career but it seems to me that too much time is spent discussing the significance of these artists which seems gratuitous particularly considering how much material they are trying to cram into 115 minutes. After about 1964 we see practically no African-American faces other than B.B. even though he influenced hundreds of black blues musicians who are continuing his tradition but since many of those artists working today don't have worldwide recognition I guess they are not considered important. Watching this documentary you really don't get an appreciation for how much impact B.B. had on other African-American blues musicians and African-American music in general. To sum up I found the first half of the documentary consistently rewarding, the second half unbearably dull and obnoxious. Caveat emptor. (FS)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good July 10 2014
By wondermagott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Really Awesome movie. Lots of things to learn, both about the King of the Blues and about the troubled times of segregation. Also lots of things to learn about old blues artists that influenced BB King. Movie to be watched over and over. Love the movie, love BB, love the blues!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love B. B July 9 2014
By Mary B. Young - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you love B.B. you will have seen many of the clips. This one has put it all together lovingly.
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