" Interview "
This week we conclude our conversation with Mick Hucknall (if you missed Part One last week click HERE to read it now in ourARCHIVES). We pick up the conversation with...
Bob Putignano for BluesWax: Those records of Bobby's [Blue Bland] from that era still sound quite fresh, which you cannot say about a lot of material from that time period.
Mick Hucknall: Especially the Fifties material, as I felt the Sixties stuff sounded a bit thin. Like the Fifties James Brown records on King have a lot of bass on those tracks, which has that Jazz roundness and fullness to it. I know they are not Rudy Van Gelder records.
BW: Rudy is one of my all time favorite engineers, when you listen to Rudy's Fifties records, they are amazing, he was so far ahead of everyone else at that time, as well as into the Nineties, too.
MH: Rudy was definitive, you cannot get better than that.
BW: I saw that you got to hang with Bobby at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis; that must have been a trip!
MH: I have to say that I was a little bit nervous, even though I knew we had been given the thumbs-up by the great man. He listened to a few of our songs and he liked what we did with them. The important thing for me was that we wanted to make sure that we kept in mind that we were doing these songs in 2007, not 1957.
BW: You wanted to keep it contemporary.
MH: Absolutely, plus the biggest joy for me was how Bobby responded to that, and told me that he liked the twist in our approach, but "you still kept the flavor," which is what we set out to do.
BW: From what I read, I think the ultimate respect was the fact that Bobby said that he wanted to work with you. My God, Mick, how much better does it get than that?
MH: Well, what can I say, other than I was floored. If you go to YouTube you will see this documentary with contributions from Van Morrison and a fantastic segment with B.B. King. Just search on Tribute To Bobby. I was fortunate to have sung on one of B.B.'s CDs a few years ago and I know full well of the wonderful, wonderful relationship he's had with Bobby over the years, starting out as his chauffeur for heaven sakes! I love looking at some of those videos of B.B. and Bobby as you can feel the great empathy between the two of them.
"I am searching for that elusive
magical backbeat that Bobby's music had."
BW: Those records they did together were great; where you can really feel the electricity and warmth they had, they were like butter. You know what I really thought is cool is how Rhino reactivated the Atco label for your CD.
MH: Oh, yeah. I know the label as I had a few Otis Redding import 45s on Atco, but Atco never existed in the U.K.
BW: I just thought it was really hip to see the Atco insignia on your CD.
MH: You know what? Here's the news, I did not even know that about the Atco label on my disc! But I am absolutely thrilled to hear that! In fact, I have to go order a copy for myself as an import! [Laughs.]
BW: Just go to Rhino's website, hah!
MH: Absolutely! Hey, every little bit helps! [More laughs.]
BW: The bucks partially get back in the right pockets.
MH: Yeah, somewhere down the line.
BW: "Farther Up The Road"...which was the first single they sent me.
MH: It's got a great little groove, and kind of now, too.
BW: It's contemporary for sure, but not overly so.
MH: That was the ballpark we were looking for and we wanted to be conscious of the demographics we were shooting for.
BW: Yeah, you must be in your mid forties?
BW: Well, I have almost ten on you.
MH: Oh really, you confused me with that ever youthful voice of yours.
BW: Well, thank you, Mick! The Blues is sort of in a tough spot right now, so did you feel that doing this kind of record might be risky?
MH: I'll be really frank with you, Bob; I think it's very risky. It's not like I am aiming at being number one on the Pop charts, but what we have here is: what I think is that we have a record here that will be around, it's got legs. I don't think it will disappear off the face of the earth. You know I'm still ambitious, but I am searching for that elusive magical backbeat that Bobby's music had. To me it's indefinable, but I know when it's right. So I am going to aim for the sky, that's what I'm going for with my next album of my own material. I just love the idea of taking on a new challenge that is completely new instead of relying on career where I could very easily carry on with Simply Red, especially in Western Europe, where I can continue perform for thousands of people for the rest of my life, but I just don't want to do that anymore, man.
BW: In all fairness, Mick, if need be it must be nice to know that the Simply Red road is always there for you, if and when you so choose.
MH: I get you, and you are absolutely right. Frank Sinatra made plenty of comebacks, James Brown made even more, when he went to show business heaven he was on comeback number four. [Laughs.] I don't want to say never, but just somehow I just don't see it for me.
BW: Well, I think you are off on the right foot for two reasons: First being best wishes with this and future Bluesy recordings, but more importantly, Mick, it's not often the Blues world gets a person with a big following who has the ability to reach a wider audience. So you giving exposure to Bobby Bland is not only greatly appreciated, but it's also needed at this time to potentially turn-on a larger fan base on to Bobby, and the Blues.
MH: I really do hope people go out and discover the Duke recordings, as well, which would be good for Bobby. So were hoping people get curious and discover Bobby's originals.
BW: And it wouldn't hurt to have the labels recompile and repackage Bobby's early CDs, especially with your tribute CD coming out, as I think that would make a lot of sense for everyone involved.
MH: I really do hope so. Bobby's recordings are absolutely magnificent. His voice blows me away and always will.
Mick Hucknall's Tribute To Bobby
Click Cover For More Info
BW: Will there be any tour support for this album?
MH: We're going to see how it goes, this disc is part of my catalog, so when we record my next CD I want to do a full length set of both the new original material and Bobby's classics, too. I'm also hoping that if this CD does well enough in the States, we would love to come over and play these songs live in front of an American audience, but we have to wait and see what kind of commercial reaction we get.
BW: I have a good feeling that this is going to roll well for you, Mick.
MH: I really hope so.
BW: Your CD is one of the freshest takes by a younger artist on an elder Bluesman, in quite some time, if ever.
MH: Well, that is just... when you say it that way, that's mission accomplished for me as that is exactly what I'm trying to do.
BW: It's just one set of ears, Mick, but hopefully there are many more out there.
MH: Thanks for a lovely conversation, Bob. All the best to you.
BW: Right back at you, Mick. Stay well and keep on singing the Blues.
Bob Putignano is a contributing editor at BluesWax. You may contact Bob at: firstname.lastname@example.org web site: www.SoundsofBlue.com
Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com