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C.A.T: Two Steps from the Blues

Bobby Bland – Two Steps from the Blues (1961)

Don’t let the name fool you, there’s nothing bland about this soulful blues man. Known as the “Lion of the Blues”, Bobby “Blue” Bland had a voice as powerful as it was sweet, marvelously showcased on perhaps one of the most underrated soul classics of all time Two Steps from the Blues. Stumbling upon this album a few weeks ago without any prior knowledge of it’s existence, I’m not lying when I say this plain and simple, blew me away right from the get go. From the opening horns of the leadoff title track, I was sucked right into a soulful R&b wonderland, that track still gives me the chills.

Though no great can be truly great without a little help from their friends and Bobby had some of the best collaborators in the biz. Bandleader/arranger Joe Scott has written and assembled some of the best bluesy classics and wrapped them up in a beautiful big band sound. The quality of the musicianship is off the charts but there’s one particular band member that stands out in my mind, guitarist Wayne Bennett. Always mixed up as high as the heavens in the sound mix, he just may be my new favorite R&B guitarist. I mean I love Steve Cropper, but this guy definitely gives him a run for his money, he’s outstanding.

The whole production definitely reminds me of all those great Stax records artists along with legends like Junior Parker and Sam Cooke, good friends with Bobby Bland. Though this is my new favorite arrangement of soul music not just for it’s talented vocalist, but for literally every aspect of the production.

So you wanna feel good, take a trip back to the heyday of Duke records and the pinnacle of R&b? Just take two steps to the blues and you’ll find it.

Favorite Tracks: “Cry, Cry Cry”, “Don’t Cry No More”, “Two Steps from the Blues”