4 July 2008

Mick Hucknall

Tonight I went to see Mick Hucknall in concert. Formerly the front singer of Simply Red he's gone solo to do this concert "A tribute to Bobby 'Blue' Bland". Mick, as usual, was superb. He has the voice that suits this sort of music and it was a treat to hear him perform these wonderful numbers.
Bobby Bland was born on January 27, 1930, in the nearby town of Rosemark, Bobby “Blue” Bland had moved to Memphis by age seventeen. He worked in a garage during the week and sang spirituals on weekends. At various times, he also served as a chauffeur for B.B. King and Roscoe Gordon and a valet for Junior Parker. In the beginning, he styled himself after the likes of Roy Brown. After serving a stint in the army, however, Bland spent the latter half of the Fifties maturing into a masterful singer and assured entertainer. His hallmark was his supple, confidential soul-blues delivery. As a singer, Bland projected a grainy, down-to-earth quality, punctuated with guttural growls and snorts that would come to be known as the “chicken-bone sound.” Yet his voice was simultaneously smooth as velvet, allowing Bland to bring audiences under his hypnotic spell as he walked a fine line between passionate expression and exquisite self-control.
Working with bandleader and producer Joe Scott, Bland recorded straight blues such as “Farther On Up the Road” but subsequently evolved into more of an intimate soul-blues stylist. Bland’s painstakingly crafted records featured his deliberate, resolute vocals set over a backdrop of dazzling horn fanfares, supple rhythm parts and Wayne Bennett’s
-style guitar. Beginning with “I’ll Take Care of You” in early 1960, Bland released a dozen huge R&B hits in a row, eleven of which made the Top Ten. They included “I Pity the Fool,” “That’s the Way Love Is” and “Turn On Your Love Light,” a song that went on to become an R&B standard. As a measure of his considerable appeal to black audiences, Bland placed an amazing 51 singles on the R&B Top Forty. However, he crossed over into the pop-oriented Top Forty singles chart only four times and never got higher than Number 20 (with “Ain’t Nothing You Can Do,” in 1964). To this day, Bland remains a fixture on the concert circuit, a hard-working professional who purveys a definitive union of Southern blues and soul.”

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