Friday, November 12, 2010

Nov. 12, 1960: Bobby "Blue" Bland recorded second session for Two Steps from the Blues

First posted May 29, 2008. Last updated September 10, 2018.

Two Steps from the Blues

Bobby “Blue” Bland

Released: Jan. 1, 1961

Recorded: 1956-1960

Sales (in millions):
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UK: --
IFPI: --
World (estimated): --

US: --
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Quotable: “One of the key albums in modern blues” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

Genre: blues

Album Tracks:

  1. Two Steps from the Blues (1960)
  2. Cry, Cry, Cry (10/10/60, #71 US, #9 RB)
  3. I’m Not Ashamed (5/4/59, #13 RB)
  4. Don’t Cry No More (7/24/61, #71 US, #2 RB)
  5. Lead Me On (4/11/60, #9 RB)
  6. I Pity the Fool (2/6/61, #46 US, #1 RB)
  7. I’ve Just Got to Forget You (1960)
  8. Little Boy Blue (10/6/58, #10 RB)
  9. St. James Infirmary (1960)
  10. I’ll Take Care of You (12/21/59, #89 US, #2 RB)
  11. I Don’t Want No Woman (recorded 1/22/57)
  12. I’ve Been Wrong So Long (1960)

Singles/Hit Songs:

Click here for the chart codes for singles/hit songs.


“Without a doubt, Two Steps from the Blues is the definitive Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland album and one of the great records in electric blues and soul-blues. In fact, it’s one of the key albums in modern blues, marking a turning point when juke joint blues were seamlessly blended with gospel and Southern soul, creating a distinctly Southern sound where all of these styles blended so thoroughly it was impossible to tell where one began and one ended.” STE

From 1956 to 1960, Bland had some success on the R&B charts – five of those songs are gathered here. He also recorded two albums (Blues Consolidated and Like ‘Er Red Hot) for Duke Records. WK He moved to Chicago in 1960, WK and recorded another seven songs at Universal Studio which would be compiled on this album. WK

The first session, on August 3, 1960, produced Two Steps from the Blues, Cry, Cry, Cry, and the ballad I’ve Been Wrong So Long, WK on which biographer Charles Farley praised Wayne Bennett as “the most articulate blues guitarist ever.” WK At a November 12 session, the crew recorded a cover of Joe Primrose’s St. James Infirmary and “the moody” I’ve Just Got to Forget You,” WK which didn’t emerge until 1970 as the B-side of “Keep on Loving Me (You’ll See the Change).” WK That session also produced Don’t Cry No More with a faster rhythm, and the Joe Medwick-penned I Pity the Fool. WK

The new songs were done at Universal Studio with “a tight, well-rehearsed, bombastic, blues band.” WK Joe Scott, producer and arranger, crafted the “wailing horn arrangements that sounded as impassioned as Bland’s full-throated, anguished vocals.” STE These songs “form the core of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s legend and the foundation of soul-blues.” STE They “blur the division between Ray Charles soul and Chess blues, opening the doors for numerous soul and blues sounds, from Muscle Shoals and Stax through the modern-day soul-bluesman.” STE

Mojo’s Geoff Brown said: “No song is wasted and hardly a note sounds false as Bland's blues-wearied voice, driven to anguished screams, grapples with the vicissitudes of life and love, his torment echoed and bolstered by Joe Scott’s memorable horn arrangements.” WK

“Since this, like many blues albums from the late ‘50s/early ‘60s, was a collection of singles, it’s possible to find the key tracks, even the entire album, on the numerous Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland collections released over the years, but this remains an excellent, essential blues album on its own terms – one of the greatest ever released.” STE

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