Wednesday, October 31, 2007

No. 215: Two Steps from the Blues

Band: Bobby "Blue" Bland
Album: Two Steps from the Blues
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Probably the definitive Bobby Bland record is an exercise in soul-blues and electric blues.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: It's a nice record, but it has a real "big band," old time singer feel to it.
Best song: The title track is pretty great. Also, I enjoy the idea of having a song of "I Pity The Fool."
Worst song: "I Don't Want No Woman" isn't great.
Is it awesome?: Not really.

I'd be a giant hypocrite if I acted like I loved this album, because it's not hugely different from a Frank Sinatra-type vocalist's album. There are big arrangements, crooning vocals and a lot of songs about love. says the record contains "songs that blur the division between Ray Charles soul and Chess blues, opening the doors for numerous soul and blues sounds, from Muscle Shoals and Stax through the modern-day soul-bluesman." I'm not sure I totally agree with it; The true soul and grittiness of the Muddy Waters and B.B. Kings of the world are much better.

Certainly, Ray Charles is a comparison, but even Charles was more soulful. Bland's sound is what we now call overproduced, the overwhelming sound is pretty boring.

I think it has something to do with the fact that Bland is solely a singer. Unlike Little Walter, Charles, Kind or Waters, Bland's totally at the mercy of those performing with him and producing the record. They were able to dictate the sound more and I think it shows.

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