The first time I heard the song “I Pity The Fool”, I stopped dead in my tracks and was completely drawn in by the growling vocals of Bobby “Blue” Bland. I immediately bought a 2-disc anthology to introduce myself to the man. Born in Tennessee, “Blue” Bland sang iconic songs “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City”, “Lead Me On”, “Turn Your Love Light On”, and “Farther On Up The Road.” He started out singing gospel and then fell in love with the blues he heard in Memphis and began blending those styles. Later he sang what would be considered R&B of the 70s and 80s. It’s all soul music really, and he was one of the best, along with his contemporaries Johnnie Taylor, Bobby Rush, BB King, etc. (By the way, Bobby Rush and BB King are still touring around, so get to see them. I’ve seen BB several times, but never Bobby Rush, but this festival looks off the chain and I may have to endure the sweltering August Mississippi to go: http://www.jacksonrhythmandbluesfestival.com.) “Blue” Bland sadly passed away June 23 at the age of 83. He left a legacy that generations will enjoy for the years to come.
Here is one of the most well-known songs “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City,” which Jay-Z and Kanye West sampled.
My personal favorite, “I Pity The Fool”:
Here is “Farther Up the Road” which was his first single in 1967 and has that classic early sound and of course has become a Blues standard now:
Here he is singing “The Thrill Is Gone” with BB King in 1980. While all respect to the King, you can hear the stronger vocal prowess of Bland in comparison to BB’s vocals:
And because there are too many to choose from, here is “I’ll Take Care Of You”. Ugh. Hits me in the gut: