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Monday, May 13, 2013

Bobby Bland: Reflections In Blue


REFLECTIONS IN BLUE (1977)

1) The Soul Of A Man; 2) I'll Be Your Fool Once More; 3) Sittin' On A Poor Man's Throne; 4) I Intend To Take Your Place; 5) It Ain't The Real Thing; 6) It's All Over; 7) If I Weren't A Gambler; 8) Five Long Years; 9) I Got The Same Old Blues.

Back to normal. Good title, good album sleeve, good song selection, good backing band. No at­tempt to repeat the country debacle. No dabbling in trashy disco or other styles that are not hard­wired to Bobby's stem cells. Just the usual — a little blues, a little soul, a little urban atmosphere, a little smoky darkness, and we are completely back to the style of Dreamer.

Supposedly, that should complete the review, but I will try to add just a few specifics. ʽI Got The Same Old Bluesʼ was already one of J. J. Cale's most frequently covered numbers, but this is the first time it was done in style by an accomplished soul vocalist, and the original vibe is right up Bobby's alley — and, by the way, whoever is out there trying to match his vocal tension with loosely flowing blues-rock guitar pirouettes is no slouch either.

Conversely, one could say that the blues classic ʽFive Long Yearsʼ is butchered with extra strings, slower-than-necessary tempos, butter-soft guitar soloing, and too much tenderness in some of the verses — but this is really a thorough «soul reinvention» of a blues number, not just a sissied-up cover, and the new look at least makes it feel more novel and curious than if we just had our­selves one more generic cover of ʽFive Long Yearsʼ.

The best songs, however, are probably Bobby's own ʽSoul Of A Manʼ, taken at a jumpier tempo and molded somewhat in the «anthemic» vein characteristic of blaxploitation movie soundtracks of the time; and the funky ʽSittin' On A Poor Man's Throneʼ (swampy wah-wah croaks over R&B strings à la 1970s are always welcome). But in reality, the album is simply very even: no great victories, not a single serious misstep. A good listen on a tired old evening, and very little to write about — thumbs up, and be done with it.

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