Bobby's music has always had a special place for me from the very first moment I was played "ain't Nothin; You Can Do" on a Duke 45. I'd felt chuffed at having bought Van Morrison's "Too Late to Stop Now" double album and i loved his version of the song. My usual stop off point for all my free time was Replays Records in Southampton and I mentioned it to Tim behind the counter. Off he went to rummage around out the back, only to emerge ten minutes or so later clutching a single: Bobby Blue Bland's original recording. Smitten was the word and ever since there's been a Bobby Bland song at every important emotion in my life. He's been described as "too smooth" and the sepia Sinatra but neither phrase gets close. He could go from gospel fervour to a gentle lover's caress in a heartbeat - I only hope the stuff we played last night begun to do him justice. Earlier in the day one of the stations transmitting on the Sky satellite did a top notch tribute including several Malaco sides (Clive R rightly put Blands achievements into proper context - unlike the obit writer for the Daily Telegraph who skated over the last 20 years of Bobby's work inside 20 words).
Neil seemed taken aback that Bobby had achieved greatness without any significant instrumental or songwriting gifts - just a rich, supple, throaty voice and arrangements that made it all sound so effortless. Such was his stature that he'd always attract the finest sidemen and we had some of the finest blues guitar playing ever captured from Clarence Holliman, Mel Brown, Jimmy Johnson, Roy Gaines, Pat Hare and Wayne Bennett. Almost all were on hand last night.
I almost put a question mark against Pat Hare's name - according to the reference bible he did just one studio session as lead player for Bland: the one with "Further On Up The Road". Bobby once confirmed it was Pat laying down that caustic part. However I also read an interview with Wayne Bennett who insisted it was him, and my ears seem to suggest it was him. For further confusion another school of thought credits Clarence Holliman. There are similarities with Bennett's masterful - and landmark - solo on "Stormy Monday Blues" (which everyone says is Wayne). Our tracklisting shown below draws from his earliest years which are most easily sampled through the album "Two Steps from the Blues". It marked a greatest hits collection by another name. That one is another album in that select category "Essential". I note its been reissued with a dozen previously unavailable cuts.
Our other subject last night was Texan pianist Little Willie Littlefield who - as a boy - was dubbed the "Texas Sensation". He took Amos Milburn's triplets and vocal trademarks to another level. He was discovered by local entrepreneur Eddie Henry who did eight sides, releasing six of them through the EDDIE'S imprint. We had one to show his remarkable dexterity as a 16-17 year old. His most famed performance was on a song written especially for him by Lieber and Stoller (they called it "KC Loving" as it seemed cooler than the name "Kansas City" used by Wilbert Harrison a few years later for the massive hit single). Ace has a pair of anthologies of Willie's work for Modern label, every one a gem. Willie came to Europe on a regular basis - he met and married in the Netherlands back in the Seventies. he played the Burnley Blues festival and one of his final UK dates was nearby in Castor just outside Peterborough. The Burnley track we did was backed by the Big Town Playboys, whose Mike Sanchez broke the news of Willie's death this week. Mike was generous in his words which gave the reader a real sense of joy at meeting Willie and his infectious smile.
Thank-you for your kind invitation to your place, I've a couple of guilty pleasures we can share next Sunday at 10pm (BST) until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you
|turn on your love light||bobby blue bland||10||the voice||bobby blue bland||ace|
|let good times roll - live||bobby bland and b b king||15||lucille and friends||b b king|
|Take Off Your Shoes||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||6||The Last Soul Company||Various Artists||Malaco Records|
|I Stand Accused||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||19||Bobby Blue Bland's Not Ashamed To Sing The Blues||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||MUSIC CLUB|
|St. James Infirmary||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||6||Mississippi Blues||Various Artists||Putumayo World Music|
|Cry, Cry, Cry||Bobby 'Blue' Bland w. wayne bennett||5||Good For Nothin': The Vogue Records Story||Various Artists||One Day Music|
|Ain't Nothing You Can Do||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||13||The Voice : Duke Recordings 1959-69||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||ACE|
|Woke Up Screaming||Bobby 'Blue' Bland w. Clarence Hollimon||9||The 3B Blues Boy. The Blues Years : 1952-1958||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||ACE|
|Army Blues||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||3||The 3B Blues Boy. The Blues Years : 1952-1958||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||ACE|
|i'm not ashamed||bobby blue bland w. clarence holliman||3||two steps from the blues||bobby blue bland||beat goes on|
|Members Only||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||3||First Class Blues||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||MALACO|
|cry over you||Little Willie Littlefield||10||Burnley National Blues Festival||Various Artists||JSP Records|
|Little Willie's Boogie||Little Willie Littlefield||17||Let Me Tell You About The Blues: Texas||Various Artists||Fantastic Voyage|
|K.C. Loving||Little Willie Littlefield||1||The History Of Rhythm & Blues, Volume 3 - The Rocknroll Years||Various Artists||Rhythm and Blues Records|
|Happy Pay Day||Little Willie Littlefield||4||Mojo Working : Best Of Ace Blues||Various Artists||ACE|
|Too Late For Me||Little Willie Littlefield||12||Kat On The Keys||Little Willie Littlefield||ACE|
|love me tonight||Little Willie Littlefield||13||blues: 30||various artists||ACE|
|farewell||Little Willie Littlefield||24||blues boogie bounce||little willie littlefield||ACE|
|Further On Up The Road||Bobby 'Blue' Bland w. Wayne Bennett||13||The Sound Of The City - Memphis||Various Artists||Emi Records Ltd|
|Stormy Monday Blues||Bobby 'Blue' Bland w. wayne bennett||11||The Voice : Duke Recordings 1959-69||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||ACE|
|I Pity The Fool||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||6||two steps from the blues||bobby bland||beat goes on|
|The Right Place, The Wrong Time||Bobby 'Blue' Bland w. Mel Brown||19||Master Of The Blues||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||NECTAR|
|24 Hours A Day||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||5||Blues You Can Use||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||MALACO|
|Yield Not To Temptation||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||17||The Voice : Duke Recordings 1959-69||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||ACE|
|Call On Me||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||1||Call Me / Ain't Nothin You Can Do||Bobby 'Blue' Bland||MCA|