Bobby Bland - Two Steps from the Blues
Two Steps from the Blues
Soul blues, R&B
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Notes / Reviews

Two Steps from the Blues is a 1961 album by Bobby Bland. The album was featured at number 215 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

This text has been derived from Two Steps from the Blues on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0

Artist/Band Information

Robert Calvin Bland (born January 27, 1930) better known as Bobby “Blue” Bland, is an American singer of blues and soul. He is an original member of The Beale Streeters and is sometimes referred to as the "Lion of the Blues". Along with such artists as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Junior Parker, Bland developed a sound that mixed gospel with the blues and R&B.

Bobby Bland was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.


Bobby "Blue" Bland was born in the small town of Rosemark, Tennessee. Later moving to Memphis with his mother, Bland started singing with local gospel groups there, including amongst others the Miniatures. Eager to expand his interests, he began frequenting the city's famous Beale Street where he became associated with an ad hoc circle of aspiring musicians named, not unnaturally, the Beale Streeters.

Bland's recordings from the early 1950s show him striving for individuality, but any progress was halted by a spell in the U.S. Army. When the singer returned to Memphis in 1954 he found several of his former associates, including Johnny Ace, enjoying considerable success, while Bland's recording label, Duke, had been sold to Houston entrepreneur Don Robey. In 1956 Bland began touring with Little Junior Parker. Initially he doubled as valet and driver, a role he reportedly fulfilled for B. B. King and Rosco Gordon.

Simultaneously, Bland began asserting his characteristic vocal style. Melodic big-band blues singles, including "Farther Up the Road" (1957) and "Little Boy Blue" (1958) reached the US R&B Top 10, but Bobby's craft was most clearly heard on a series of early 1960s releases including "Cry Cry Cry," "I Pity The Fool" and the sparkling "Turn On Your Love Light", which became a much-covered standard. Despite credits to the contrary, many such classic works were written by Joe Scott, the artist's bandleader and arranger.

Personal Life

Bland continued to enjoy a consistent run of R&B chart entries throughout the mid-'60s . Never truly breaking into the mainstream market, Bland's highest charting song on the pop chart, "Ain't Nothing You Can Do" peaked at #20 during the same week The Beatles held down the Top 5 spots. Much more important to his legacy, however, is the fact that Bland's records mostly sold on the R&B market and he chocked up an amazing 23 Top Ten hits on the Billboard R&B charts and in the 1996 Top R&B book by Joel Whitburn, Bland was rated the #13 all-time best selling artist.

Financial pressures forced the singer to cut his touring band and in 1968 the group broke up altogether. His relationship with Scott, who died in 1979, was irrevocably severed. Nonetheless, depressed and increasingly dependent on alcohol, Bland weathered this unhappy period. He stopped drinking in 1971; his record company Duke was sold by owner Don Robey to the larger ABC Records group. This resulted in several successful and critically-acclaimed contemporary blues/soul albums including His California Album and Dreamer, arranged by Michael Omartian and produced by ABC staff man Steve Barri. The albums, including the later "follow-up" in 1977 Reflections in Blue, were all recorded in Los Angeles and featured many of the city's top sessionmen at the time.

The first single released from His California Album, "This Time I'm Gone For Good" took Bland back into the pop Top 50 for the first time since 1964 and made the R&B top 10 in late 1973. The lead-off track from Dreamer, "Ain't No Love In the Heart of the City", was a strong R&B hit. Later it would surface again in the rock world with a 1977 cover by Scottish progressive rock band Cafe Jacques (album Round the Back, CBS Records), and then in 1978 by the hard rock band Whitesnake featuring singer David Coverdale. Much later it was sampled by Kanye West on Jay-Z's 2001 Hip Hop album The Blueprint. The follow-up, "I Wouldn't Treat A Dog" was his biggest R&B hit for some years, climbing to #3 in late 1974, but as usual his strength was never the pop chart (where it hit #88). Subsequent attempts at adding a disco/Barry White flavor were mostly unsuccessful. A return to his roots in 1980 for a tribute album to his mentor Joe Scott, produced by music veterans Monk Higgins and Al Bell, resulted in a fine album Sweet Vibrations, but it failed to sell well outside of his traditional "chitlin circuit" base.

In 1985, Bland was signed by Malaco Records, specialists in traditional Southern black music, who provided an empathetic environment and the singer has turned out a series of well-crafted albums in the ensuing years while continuing to tour and occasionally appear at concerts with fellow blues singer B. B. King. The two had collaborated for two albums in the 1970s. One of the finest singers in post-war blues, Bland need not apologize for never quite achieving across-the-board popular acclaim that his influence and craft deserves (such as that of B.B. King and even Muddy Waters) but his devoted, primarily older, African-American soul-blues fan base are content with his historic legacy as it is. Despite occasional age-related ill-health, Bland continues to record new albums for Malaco, perform occasional tours alone and also with B.B. King, plus appearances at blues and soul festivals worldwide. A DVD of a 1990's Memphis nightclub performance is a popular Malaco title.

Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison was an early adherent of Bland (he covered "Ain't Nothing You Can't Do" on his 1974 live album It's Too Late to Stop Now) and has on occasion had Bland as a guest singer at his concerts. He also included a previously unreleased version of a March 2000 duet of Morrison and Bland singing "Tupelo Honey" on his 2007 compilation album, The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3. America's Got Talent semifinalist Queen Emily covered Bland's 1987 "No Easy Way to Say Goodbye" on her solo debut.http



* Blues Consolidated - 1958 (Duke Records)

* Like Er Red Hot - 1960 (Duke Records)

*Two Steps from the Blues (Duke 1961/MCA 2002)

*Here's the Man! - 1962 (Duke Records)

*Call On Me - 1963 (Duke Records)

*Ain't Nothing You Can Do - 1964 (Duke Records)

*The Soul of The Man" - 1966 (Duke Records)

*Touch of The Blues - 1967 (Duke Records)

*The Best Of - 1967 (Duke Records)

*The Best Of Volume 2 - 1968 (Duke Records)

*Spotlighting The Man - 1969 (Duke Records)

*His California Album - 1973 (Dunhill Records)

*Dreamer - 1974 (Dunhill Records)

*Together for the First Time (with B.B.King) - 1974 (ABC)

*Get On Down - 1975 (ABC Records)

*Bobby Bland and B. B. King Together Again...Live - 1976 (ABC)

*Reflections In Blue - 1977 (ABC Records)

*Come Fly With Me - 1978 (ABC Records)

*I Feel Good - 1979 (MCA Records)

*Sweet Vibrations - 1980 (MCA 27076) Tribute to Joe Scott

*Here We Go Again - 1982 (MCA 5297)

*Members Only - 1985 (Malaco Records)

*After All - 1986 (Malaco Records)

*Blues You Can Use - 1987 (Malaco Records)

*First Class Blues - 1987 (Malaco Records)

*Midnight Run -1989 (Malaco Records)

*Portrait of the Blues - 1991 (Malaco Records)

*Years of Tears - 1993 (Malaco Records)

*Sad Street- 1995 (Malaco Records)

*Live On Beale Street-1998 (Malaco Records)

*Memphis Monday Morning-1998 (Malaco Records)

*Blues At Midnight - 2003 (Malaco Records)


*"Booted" / "I Love You Til The Day I Die" - 1951 *with Bobby "Blue" Bland Chess Records

*"Crying All Night Long" / "Dry Up Baby" - 1952 (Chess Records)

*"Good Lovin'" / "Drifting From Town To Town" - 1952 (Chess Records)

*"Crying" / "A Letter From A Trench In Korea" - 1952 (Chess Records)

*"Lovin' Blues" / "I.O.U. Blues" - 1952 Duke Records

*"Army Blues" / "No Blow, No Show" - 1953 (Duke Records)

*"Time Out" / "It's My Life Baby" - 1955 (Duke Records)

*"You Or None" / "Woke Up Screaming" - 1955 (Duke Records)

*"I Can't Put You Down" / "You've Got Bad Intentions" - 1956 (Duke Records)

*"I Learned My Lesson" / "Lead Us On" - 1956 (Duke Records)

*"I Learned My Lesson" / "I Don't Believe" - 1956 (Duke Records)

*"Don't Want No Woman" / "I Smell Trouble" - 1957 (Duke Records)

*"Farther Up the Road" / "Sometime Tomorrow" - 1957 (Duke Records) (R&B 1/POP 43)

*"Teach Me" (How To Love You) / "Bobby's Blues" - 1957 (Duke Records)

*"You Got Me Where You Want Me" / "Loan A Helping Hand" – 1958 (Duke Records)

*"Little Boy Blue" / "Last Night" – 1958 (Duke Records) (10/-)

*"You Did Me Wrong" / "I Lost Sight Of The World" - 1959 (Duke Records)

*"I'm Not Ashamed" / "Wishing Well" - 1959 (Duke Records) (13/-)

*"Is It Real" / "Someday" - 1959 (Duke Records) (28/-)

*"I'll Take Care Of You" / "That's Why" - 1959 (Duke Records) (2/89)

*"Lead Me On" / "Hold Me Tenderly" (Duke Records) (9/-)

*"Cry, Cry, Cry" / "I've Been Wrong So Long" - 1960 (Duke Records) (9/71)

*"I Pity The Fool" / "Close To You" - 1961 (Duke Records) (1/46)

*"Don't Cry No More" / "How Does A Cheating Woman Feel" - 1961 (Duke Records) (2/71)

*"Turn On Your Love Light" / "You're The One" (That I Need) - 1961 (Duke Records) (2/28)

*"Ain't That Loving You" / "Jelly, Jelly, Jelly" - 1961 (Duke Records) (9/86)

*"Don't Cry No More" / "Saint James Infirmary" - 1961 (Duke Records)

*"Who Will The Next Fool Be" / "Blue Moon" - 1962 (Duke Records) (12/76)

*"Love You Baby" / "Drifting" - 1962 (Kent)

*"Yield Not To Temptation" / "How Does A Cheating Woman Feel" - 1962 (Duke Records) (10/56)

*"Stormy Monday Blues" / "Your Friends" - 1962 (Duke Records) (5/43)

*"That's The Way Love Is" / "Call On Me" - 1962 (Duke Records) (1/43)

*"Call On Me" / "That's The Way Love Is" - 1962 (Duke Records) flipped over (5/22)

*"Sometimes You Gotta Cry A Little" / "You're Worth It All" - 1963 (Duke Records) (28/56)

another 20 singles that charted.....

*"Shoes" / "A Touch Of The Blues" - 1967 (Duke Records)

*"Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City" / "Twenty-Four Hour Blues" - 1974 (ABC Dunhill Records)

See also

* Tribute to Bobby, a solo tribute debut album by Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall


This text has been derived from Bobby Bland on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0