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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City"

Bobby Bland - Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City (1974)

"...Oh the sun don't shine from City Hall to the County line..."

Love song, message song, funk song. A lot of people have spent a lot of time breaking this song down. It's been successfully covered by Whitesnake, and used by producer Kanye West in Jay-Zs Heart of the City (Ain't No Love) this simply constructed song is a perfect Polaroid for the time period.

We've got at least three distinct guitar sounds, including one pushed through a serious fuzz amp. We've got drums and bass giving a just behind the beat laid back feel. There is a brass section, some flute, and a string section giving us depth over the guitars. I really like the occasional back-up singers. They only show up to give a haunting almost echo to a few lines. Bobby Bland's lead vocal track here is really emotive. He's lived a hard life. By this point in his career, well after the success he enjoyed as a blues singer in the 60s, after the breakup of his touring band, and after his alcohol fueled depression, no one would have blamed him if he just laid down. Instead, after his contract got bought along with many others in a big record label shift in the early 70s, he released another album. It had some success, so he recorded Dreamer; the album this song is on. He's still getting royalties on this one; it was just used this year in The Lincoln Lawyer.

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