Friday, 20 January 2017

"Greatest Hits Vol. Two: The ABC-Dunhill/MCA Recordings" by BOBBY BLAND (1998 Universal/MCA CD Compilation - Erick Labson Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...


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Subtitled "The ABC-Dunhill/MCA Recordings" this 16-track 1998 USA-only CD compilation is a deceptive little bugger that packs a whole lot more punch than its naff title and sleeve would suggest. It covers the period 1973 to 1982 and therefore gives us some great-sounding remasters from a criminally under-represented part of Bland's extraordinary career.

Released July 1998 in the USA (2000 in the UK) - "Greatest Hits Vol. Two: The ABC-Dunhill/MCA Recordings" by BOBBY BLAND on Universal/MCA MCAD-11809 (Barcode 008811180928) is a 16-track CD compilation of Remasters and plays out as follows (69:33 minutes):

1. This Time I'm Gone For Good
2. Goin' Down Slow
3. I Wouldn't Treat A Dog (The Way You Treated Me)
4. Ain't No Love In the Heart Of The City
5. Yolanda
6. I Ain't Gonna Be The First To Cry
7. Today I Started Loving You Again
8. I Hate You
9. The Soul Of A Man
10. It Ain't The Real Thing
11. Sittin' On A Poor Man's Throne
12. Let The Good Times Roll [Live] with B.B. KING
13. You'd Be A Millionaire
14. Love To See You Smile
15. Recess In Heaven
16. Soon As The Weather Breaks

(US Album catalogue numbers)
Tracks 1 and 2 are from the LP "His California Album", 1973 on Dunhill 50163
Tracks 3 to 6 are from "Dreamer", 1974 on Dunhill 50169
Tracks 7 and 8 are from "Get Down With", 1975 on ABC 895
Tracks 9 to 11 are from "Reflections In Blue", 1978 on ABC 1018
Track 12 is from Together Again...Live", 1976 on ABC-Impulse 9317
Track 13 is from "Sweet Vibrations", 1980 on MCA 5142
Track 14 is from "Come Fly With Me", 1978 on ABC 1075
Track 15 is from "Here We Go Again", 1982 on MCA 5297
Track 16 is from "I Feel Good, I Feel Fine", 1979 on MCA 3157

His 50s and 60's tracks have been done to death in the USA - and fabulous they are too - but I adore his Seventies Soul/Funk stuff more - and especially the two masterpieces that turned up on Probe Records in the UK in 1973 and 1974 - "His California Album" and "Dreamer". I've had OK-only reissues of these for years just to have the music and have dreamed of the day that either or both receive the DELUXE EDITION 2CD treatment - or even a Hip-O Select Box Set covering the full ABC/Probe years where I know the sound will be the business. Well this compilation goes a bit of a way towards that because it's remastered by one of Universal's top engineers ERICK LABSON (over 1000 audio restoration and remaster credits to his name) and the sound quality is gorgeous - really clean, muscular and a revelation on every track. The 12-page booklet has liner notes by long-time Blues and R'n'B historian and hero BILL DAHL whose done tons of work for Bear Family on their "Sweet Soul Music" series 1961 to 1975 (see indepth reviews for all 15 Volumes).

The slinky Steely Dan Funk Soul of "I Ain't Gonna Be The First To Cry" (lyrics from it title this review) is a joy - every instrument impressive - and of course that voice. "Today I Started Loving You Again" is another gem and the bluesy cover of Louis Jordan's "Let The Good Times Roll" with B.B. KING (live) is a welcome reminder of his illustrious R'n'B past. Sure it tapers off a bit towards the end and it could easily have had 2 more tracks - but as it stands - this overlooked and stunning-sounding MCA CD compilation is about ten dollars for US buyers and £5 for UK - and as such represents amazing value for money - a top Soul bargain.

Discover Bobby "Blue" Bland superb Soul period through "Greatest Hits Vol. Two" - and watch that phone dial light up as the bank manager begs you to stop spending money on his catalogue...

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