I just read “Deep Blues”, the excellent history of American Delta Blues music. One striking fact is how close the family of our most famous blues musicians are. Bobby “Blue” Bland was working in Memphis in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and a great friend of B.B. King. Virtually all the great blues men, from John Lee Hooker to Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters, developed their music within a couple hundred miles of Memphis, in the Mississippi River delta.
His best songs have an urban feel, a polished singer with an accomplished band led by Joe Scott. Bland has a distinctive voice, smooth as silk at times, rough like gravel at others. His best songs from the late 1950s and early 1960s are among my favorites. Van Morrison was clearly influenced by the great man, and has covered “I’ll Take Care Of You” and “Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby” in concert. The Grateful Dead popularized “Turn On Your Lovelight”, a vehicle for original keyboardist Pigpen McKernan.
There are few good videos. Here are three to get a feel for his music, though it would have been nice to see him in his heyday.
I first purchased The Best of Bobby Bland, volume 1 as a vinyl album, sometime in the mid- to late-1980s. I liked it so much I bought Volume 2 shortly afterwards. Everybody should own a selection of his greatest hits. Great stuff.
Turn On Your Love Light, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭✭✭✭
Ain’t Nothing You Can Do, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭✭✭✭
I’ll Take Care Of You, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭✭✭✭
Farther Up The Road, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭✭✭✭
Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭✭✭✭
Stormy Monday Blues, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭✭✭
36-22-36, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭✭✭
Call On Me, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭✭
I’ve Been Wrong So Long, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭✭
Blind Man, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭✭
I Pity The Fool, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭✭
Hold Me Tenderly, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭✭
Little Boy Blue, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭✭
Don’t Cry No More, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭
You Did Me Wrong, Bobby “Blue” Bland ✭
Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby (Live), Van Morrison ✭✭ (from “A Night In San Francisco”)
Turn On Your Love Light (Live), Grateful Dead ✭✭ (from “Live/Dead”)
Stormy Monday Blues, T-Bone Walker ✭✭
Stormy Monday Blues, Little Joe Cook (aka Chris Farlowe) ✭✭
Stormy Monday Blues (Live), The Allman Brothers Band ✭✭✭ (from “Live At Fillmore East”)
Farther (On) Up The Road, Eric Clapton ✭✭✭ (from “E.C. Was Here”)
I’ll Take Care Of You, Van Morrison ✭✭✭
I’ll Take Care Of You/It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World (Live), Van Morrison ✭✭✭✭ (from “A Night In San Francisco”)