Monday, July 19, 2010

Bobby "Blue" Bland Kills Me....

Bobby "Blue" Bland - "Call On Me" b/w "That's the Way Love Is" is what I guess would've been a double A-side 45 on the Duke label from about 1963. It's my favorite 45 by my favorite blues singer, period. This is a 45 I stumbled on for cheap in a record store that moved to Bordentown, NJ a few years ago, where it still resides. I had read that Bobby "Blue" Bland was the most soulful and fantastic blues singer, regarded as the best by many folks. Having been more into the grittier Howlin' Wolf-style blues stuff, when I dropped the needle on this record about 5 years ago, I was floored. It's SMOOTH, deep, soulful, even SWINGIN' blues! It's not gut-bucket, stompin', yellin' jukejoint stuff. This is high class, high quality stuff with great instrumentation, and vocals and melodies that tug on your heart strings in a totally different way than Howlin' Wolf or Muddy Waters.

This 45 is full of fairly lush horn arrangements that augment the vocal melodies SO well. "Call On Me" is a really nice song, but "That's The Way Love Is" is a song that I vividly remember playing over and over in my room when I first got this record. Just picked up the needle, put it back at the beginning, and dropped it again and again. It's a beautiful itemized list of the ups and downs Mr. Bland has known in his (seemingly vast) experience with love. The day-to-day fluctuations you should expect, and that he advises you to take or leave, because "that's the way it's always been, that's the way love is." His voice goes from so sweet and gentle to passionately pleading. It's a really simple masterpiece of a song with a truly timeless message to be taken to heart.