Flashback Soul: Bobby “Blue” Bland Says There “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City”

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    In the 1970s, the urban experience began to provide all manner of inspiration and creative fodder for soul/R&B artists.  Stevie Wonder’s “Living in the City” and Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman,” for example, focused on aspects of urban poverty and drug culture, while in “What’s Going On” Marvin Gaye turned his watchful eye to increasing police brutality.  

    In 1974, on his single “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City,” the great Bobby “Blue” Bland came at the topic from still another angle, namely the emptiness of  the big city when the one you love is gone.  A simpler theme, certainly, but a universal one to which most city dwellers can relate.  Bobby wrings every drop of pathos out of his heartfelt vocal, and the track rightly cracked the top 10 of the Billboard R&B chart.  Artists from Jay Z to Whitesnake have also covered the song, but to my ear Bobby’s remains the definitive version.  Enjoy. 

    By Robb Patryk

    In the 1970s, the urban experience began to provide all manner of inspiration and creative fodder for soul/R&B artists.  Stevie Wonder’s “Living in the City” and Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman,” for example, focused on aspects of urban poverty and drug culture, while in “What’s Going On” Marvin Gaye turned his watchful eye to increasing police brutality.  

    In 1974, on his single “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City,” the great Bobby “Blue” Bland came at the topic from still another angle, namely the emptiness of  the big city when the one you love is gone.  A simpler theme, certainly, but a universal one to which most city dwellers can relate.  Bobby wrings every drop of pathos out of his heartfelt vocal, and the track rightly cracked the top 10 of the Billboard R&B chart.  Artists from Jay Z to Whitesnake have also covered the song, but to my ear Bobby’s remains the definitive version.  Enjoy. 

    By Robb Patryk