Bobby "Blue" Bland

Portrait of the Blues

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This 1991 release, along with YEARS OF TEARS from 1993, amply demonstrate the enduring power of Bobby Bland, a most singular blues singer. Justly hailed for his '50s records on the Duke label, Bland remained a powerful presence over the ensuing decades. As with all of his recordings for the Jackson, Mississippi-based Malaco label, the bulk of the songs were penned by Malaco's in-house writers. One of the set's only numbers from an outside source is the opening "Ain't No Love For Sale" by John Barranco.

With his characteristic snorts and growls, it's clear from the outset that Bobby "Blue" Bland is in command. PORTRAIT is his usual mix of bluesy shuffles, ballads, and soulful stomps. And any album that's got a song called "She's Puttin' Something In My Food" has got a leg up on the competition. Produced by Wolf Stephenson and Tommy Couch, PORTRAIT features a regal stable of players, including the durable Muscle Shoals rhythm section of drummer Roger Hawkins and bass player David Hood.

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