Mojo (Publisher) - 12/00, p.64
"...Bland's 1st two albums for new label ABC were his best. Producer Steve Barri gave Bland a more urban edge that, on the best material made Bland relevant - and revealing - all over again..."
Personnel: Bobby "Blue" Bland (vocals); Ben Benay, David Cohen, Larry Carlton, Mel Brown, Dean Parks (guitar); Chuck Findley, Paul Hubinon, Dick Hyde, Ernie Watts, Jack Kelson Jr. (horns); Michael Omartian (piano, organ); Wilton Felder, Max Bennett (bass); Ed Greene (drums); Ginger Blake, Julia Tillman, Maxine Willard (background vocals).
Includes liner notes by Andy McKaie.
Bland's first album for ABC-Dunhill was aptly titled. The players were the cream of the Los Angeles session scene (particularly bassist Wilton Felder and guitarist Larry Carlton), and backup singer Ginger Blake was a member of the legendary Brian Wilson-produced girl group the Honeys. Fortunately, all of them proved thoroughly sympathetic to Bland's brand of down-home blues, and the resulting album is neither overproduced nor slick. On the contrary, HIS CALIFORNIA ALBUM has a nice, late-night feel reminiscent of B.B. King's "The Thrill is Gone."
Bland, who's in exceptionally good voice here, simmers his way through some cover songs that suit his impassioned delivery to a T, including Gladys Knight's "I've Got to Use My Imagination," Luther Ingram's "I Don't Want to Be Right," and Gerry Goffin's "It's Not the Spotlight." The album's high point, however, is the opening "This Time I'm Gone for Good," a beautiful, modern soul-blues plaint sung by Bland with just the right amount of intensity and regret. "Six Degrees of Bobby Bland" trivia: Trip-hop folkie Beth Orton covered "Spotlight" on the soundtrack to the 1999 Kevin Bacon film A Stir of Echoes.