An incredible record from Bobby
– and quite possibly the greatest one he ever made! The set's got an amazing something special that's unlike most other material of the time – a bit blues, but a lot of soul too – still with some echoes of R&B in the jazzier charts used for the backdrop, but presented with a rock-solid style that definitely points the way towards many sounds and styles to come in the 60s. And although Bland
recorded many of these tracks as separate singles, there's a way they're put together here that makes the whole thing sound completely marvelous together – a really well-conceived track list that shows that Bobby
's an even greater artist in the space of a full record. The arrangements are perfect, and Bobby
's rough soulful voice is blended in this amazing way with killer horn arrangements that are far more sophisticated than most stuff that ever came after this, and which never get in the way, but only back up his deep emotion. The album's a motherlode of classics by the man, with gems that include "Two Steps From The Blues", "Cry Cry Cry", "I Don't Want No Woman", "I'm Not Ashamed", "Don't Cry No More", "Lead Me On", and "I Pity The Fool". And hell, even his version of "St James Infirmary" is pretty wonderful – something we never thought we'd say about that song.
(70s ABC/Duke pressing DLPX-74. Labels have a name in pen.)