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A hearty hat tip to a
blues legend

Mick Hucknall - Tribute To Bobby
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: July 29, 2008
Mick Hucknall

Review by Andy Argyrakis

As front man for Simply Red, Mick Hucknall is used to applying his blue-eyed soul centering to pop, R&B and even jazz reflections. But throughout the past two decades, the British band of rotating players has grown increasingly eclectic, especially in concert where even its easiest radio staples are transformed into lively, improvisational jam sessions. So as random as it may seem for the singer to compile an entire tribute disc to legendary bluesman Bobby "Blue" Bland, it's really not all that surprising considering his affinity for the genre and relatively authentic ability to replicate it.

Evidence of his ambition comes from the fact that this collection was researched and documented in Memphis, Tennessee (Bland's home state), and as the extensive liner notes offer, he played incredibly close attention to detail when returning to England to record. On "I'm Too Far Gone (To Turn Around," Hucknall croons with convincing attitude and is backed by a series of smoky-voiced background singer and an old school backing band. "Farther Up the Road" earns treatment as a honky-tonk happening, complete with rugged hand claps and zesty piano pounding. The geographic influence is especially apparent throughout "I Wouldn't Treat a Dog (The Way You Treated Me") and could fit right alongside Al Green at the preacher's pulpit had the lyrical content covered the gospel instead of the blues.

Though this is by no means a Simply Red project, fans of the band will find some immediate similarities throughout a funky interpretation of "Poverty." And given Hucknall's unique pipes, it's impossible to mistake him for someone else throughout the tender ballad "Chains of Love" or the guitar snarler "I Pity the Fool." Whether he intended it or not, the front man turned solo star is simultaneously resurrecting the sounds of the pioneering Bland for younger generations and breathing new life into his own underrated career.

Watch "Hucknall - Tribute To Bobby" Documentary Trailer

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