Bobby "Blue" Bland

Unmatched: The Very Best Of

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Bobby Bland's gospel-inflected vocals and sophisticated phrasing set him aside from the typical R&B blues singer, and he continued to stand aside in the genre throughout his long career -- if he didn’t exactly end up a household name, he well should have. He was years removed from his legacy-establishing recordings for the Chess, Modern, and Duke imprints from the 1950s and 1960s when he signed with Malaco Records in 1985, and with his voice starting to show the wear of age and of countless nights of singing, it’s easy to be ready to dismiss the nine albums he did for the label between 1985 and 2003. But that would be a mistake, as this 16-track compilation of some of the best sides he did for Malaco clearly shows. There’s more to a singer than timbre and range. There’s also heart and soul.

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