As a fully-paid-up member of the Bobby Bland Adoration Society, my instinct, upon learning that Mick Hucknall had recorded an album of classic Bland material, was to bridle.
How shocking, then, to report that this is not only a more than decent tribute, but Hucknall's best album since Stars. Not that the Hucknall of Stars could have made A Tribute To Bobby: that piping tenor was too pipsqueak a voice to grapple with such dark and weighty fare as "Cry, Cry, Cry", "Lead Me On" and the mighty "I Wouldn't Treat a Dog (The Way You Treated Me)", just three of the classics that secured Bland's position as blues vocal supremo.
But Hucknall himself is pushing 50 now, and the scuffs of experience have mellowed his voice to a more circumspect tone, one by no means embarrassed at tackling the likes of "I Pity the Fool" and "Farther On Up the Road". Hucknall has developed the songs' sophisticated allure with cleverly devised arrangements that hark back to the originals while keeping their focus on present R&B modes.
Pick of the album:'I Wouldn't Treat a Dog (The Way You Treated Me)', 'Cry, Cry, Cry', 'Farther On Up the Road', 'Yolanda', 'I Pity the Fool'Reuse content