The U.K.?s Mick Hucknall, globally renowned as lead vocalist for Simply Red, brings his world-class, blue-eyed soul front and center for his highly anticipated solo debut album, Tribute To Bobby. The disc was recorded to s... more »alute one of Hucknall?s prime inspirations, legendary American blues vocalist Bobby "Blue" Bland. Described as a "master class in soul, blues and R&B," it features Hucknall?s distinctive interpretations of twelve classic songs that were signature hits for Bland. At the same time that Hucknall honors the essence of the songs, and Bland?s major influence on his artistry, he also infuses each take with the compelling stylistic imprint that?s made Simply Red so enduringly popular.« less
The U.K.?s Mick Hucknall, globally renowned as lead vocalist for Simply Red, brings his world-class, blue-eyed soul front and center for his highly anticipated solo debut album, Tribute To Bobby. The disc was recorded to salute one of Hucknall?s prime inspirations, legendary American blues vocalist Bobby "Blue" Bland. Described as a "master class in soul, blues and R&B," it features Hucknall?s distinctive interpretations of twelve classic songs that were signature hits for Bland. At the same time that Hucknall honors the essence of the songs, and Bland?s major influence on his artistry, he also infuses each take with the compelling stylistic imprint that?s made Simply Red so enduringly popular.
"Mick Hucknall - credited simply as Hucknall for this album - is best known as the front man of Simply Red. Formed in 1984, the group hit chart success throughout the 90s. Hucknall also wrote many of Simply Red's songs and, while "Tribute to Bobby consists of cover versions, Hucknall's distinctive voice and individual style is very much in evidence from the first track through to the last. "A Tribute to Bobby" is Mick's homage to Bobby 'Blue' Bland, a star of Memphis' blues scene in the 1950s and 1960s, along with the likes of Sam Cooke, Jimmy McCracklin and Ray Charles. The result is surprisingly far from a vanity cover project. Now in his late forties and having been around the block a few times, Hucknall's extraordinary voice has gained in gravity - deeper, more textured, matured by experience. That gives his vocals an emotional authenticity which allows him to handle these songs of bitterness and despair. Also the album is more than just a collection of covers - it's also a chance for Hucknall to showcase his own vocal talents in ways which may be new to many Simply Red fans. "I'll Take Care Of You" has a heartfelt vocal against retro guitar and trembling keyboard, while "Cry, Cry, Cry" is deliciously hard-edged in its desire for a former lover's suffering. Musically the album veers away from the original, with some of Simply Red's slick soully-lounge sound. "Farther Up The Road", which kicks the album off, is funked up with jazzy piano and an irresistible beat, while "I'm Too Far Gone (To Turn Around)" starts with a fanfare of a gospel choir and struts into a attitudinal groove. The surprising thing really, though, is just how good this album actually is. Hucknall's relaxed style of delivery really does suit the music, no doubt boosted by the freedom of working on tracks recorded by one of the inspirational figures in his own life. Simply Red fans should find plenty familiar to cling to, but they are by no means the only people likely to enjoy this album. "Tribute to Bobby" should appeal to anyone with an interest in the era during which the songs were first recorded, while the work done in bringing them up to date means they are well placed to find fans among the contemporary audience. Stay Simply Red - Greatest Hits The Anthology"
Elegant, emotive and soulful.
jazzy modes | Vancouver, Canada. | 06/14/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Soul music has always been at the heart of Simply Red's output, so Mick is not exactly treading new territory, but it is a covers album after all. Hucknall confessed to being "nervous" about the project and personal odyssey, and well he might be. Looking at one of his inspirations and idols must have been a daunting task in itself. There's never ever any doubting that Hucknall has been both a consummate writer and a great singer, so now his reputation could be on the line. Robert Calvin Bland aka Bobby 'Blue' Bland and Lion Of The Blues was one of soul and R&B's unsung heroes in the 60s and 70s. For the most part, it's an assured collection of songs that in no way tarnishes the memory of Bland. Rather, it's a fitting, even loving, tribute that Hucknall clearly enjoys being given the chance to perform. 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. Ironically, its strength is also its weakness. For while there are some gems among them, to get the most from this collection you really need an appreciation of Bland's music in the first place. It's also rather constricting and some Hucknall fans might lament the fact this his first solo record doesn't afford the singer much opportunity to really broaden his horizons. At times, and because of the fact his vocals are so familiar, the album doesn't really feel like that much of a departure from Simply Red's balladry (which explains why Bland's recordings were such an influence). Highlights include the vibrant album opener "Farther Up The Road", which should get the feet shuffling and boasts some finger-clicking good percussion, while "I'm Too Far Gone (To Turn Around") opens in spectacular, gospel-dripped fashion, before settling into a deeply soulful ode to love ("if I give you my heart, please don't tear it apart"). "Yolanda" cuts quite a funky strut, complete with welcome stabs of brass and jammin' basslines, while there's another soulful vibe surrounding I Wouldn't Treat A Dog (The Way You Treat Me). But the very best is definitely saved til almost last, with renditions of "I Pity The Fool" and "Cry, Cry, Cry" really making the album come alive. Hucknall, too, seems to genuinely relish the challenge of wrapping his vocals around some of the lyrics, while the accompanying instrumentation is suitably emotive. On the whole, however, "Tribute To Bobby" is a much better album than you'd initially been anticipating, albeit with the aforementioned reservations in mind. Hucknall's fans will probably enjoy it, while fans of Bobby 'Blue' surely won't be disappointed. My picks: "I Pity The Fool", "Cry, Cry, Cry", "Yolanda", "I Wouldn't Treat A Dog (The Way You Treated Me)".
Greatest Hits Volume One - The Duke Recordings "Bobby ""Blue"" Bland - Greatest Hits, Vol. 2: The ABC-Dunhill/MCA Recordings" Stay
'Tis Everything I Expected, And More - The Best
Lynell A. Franklin | 06/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anyone considering buying this Hucknall CD is most likely well versed in Simply Red, Mick Hucknall, the man and his music. If you love Mick and his voice, you will not be disappointed. He is seasoned, has lived life long enough to sing these great blues lyrics. You don't need to be familiar with Bland's music to hear and feel what the man was singing about 30, 40 years ago. Clapton's version of Farther On Up The Road will ring familiar, probably the most recognizable for those not used to listening to the blues. Not a bad song in the bunch. I was fortunate to buy this CD from the UK, so I got the short DVD of Mick talking to Bobby Blue Bland. Mick seems quite humble and is greeted with approval from the one person whose approval meant the most, Bobby. There is a short clip of B.B. King talking about Hucknall's renditions of these classic songs. It's a glowing review. It just doesn't get any better than that. Regardless of what some may see as not much of a stretch for Hucknall, that's not what this is all about. Mick really loves these songs, you can hear it, and see it should you get the DVD. Like any great artist, uncharted waters is often where the light shines the most."
louellacan | shreveport | 12/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"i was on a trip not long ago and was listening to xm radio jazz and the 1st track came on and i was hooked! i have always enjoyed the music of simply red and when i found out the lead singer was doing this tribute to bobby blue bland, i was blown away...ordered it as soon as i got home from my trip. well worth almost anyt price i would have had to pay but you guys had an awsome price and made it soooo easy! ordered several other things that day too. by the way, couldn't find this cd at any store so your selections are the best! thanks for such great service...louella"
Hucknall's Trib to Bobby B
Cheryl Rudd | Riverdale, IL | 12/06/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
I am truly enjoying the CD, the updated version of Bobby's music is tastfully done. I am ordering it as a gift for someone else who loves the Blues."