Sunday, July 07, 2013


I have been slacking off here.

Performing great Bobby "Blue" Bland, 83, died a couple of weeks ago at the age of 83:

Though he possessed gifts on a par with his most accomplished peers, Mr. Bland never achieved the popular acclaim enjoyed by contemporaries like Ray Charles and B. B. King. But he was nevertheless a mainstay on the rhythm-and-blues charts and club circuit for decades.

His vocals, punctuated by the occasional squalling shout, were restrained, exhibiting a crooner’s delicacy of phrasing and a kind of intimate pleading. He influenced everyone from the soul singers Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett to rock groups like the Allman Brothers and The Band. The rapper Jay-Z sampled Mr. Bland’s 1974 single “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” on his 2001 album, “The Blueprint.”

Mr. Bland’s signature mix of blues, jazz, pop, gospel and country music was a good decade in the making. His first recordings, made in the early 1950s, found him working in the lean, unvarnished style of Mr. King, even to the point of employing falsetto vocal leaps patterned after Mr. King’s. Mr. Bland’s mid-’50s singles were more accomplished; hits like “It’s My Life, Baby” and “Farther Up the Road” are now regarded as hard-blues classics, but they still featured the driving rhythms and stinging electric guitar favored by Mr. King and others. It wasn’t until 1958’s “Little Boy Blue,” a record inspired by the homiletic delivery of the Rev. C. L. Franklin, that Mr. Bland arrived at his trademark vocal technique.

A man who lived up to his last name, Marc Rich, best remembered for something he'd have rather not have been remembered, died in Switzerland of a stroke. He was 78 years old.

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