The Robert Cray Band, Bad Influence (1983)
This was the first Robert Cray I heard. And it remains my favourite. My mum bought the album – I assume she bought it on a whim; I don’t think they’d heard of him, just an impulse buy. A guy with a guitar on the cover – that must’ve sold my mum at the time. I was about eight years old I reckon, maybe even seven – and I thought this was incredible music. I made a copy of the record, my own dubbed tape, Twink across the label and then a vivid scrawl. Later I picked it up on CD – there were some bonus tracks but I never much cared for those. I like the original album, lean and clean, so I went back to the LP; the original copy that my mum bought nearly 20 years ago. I don’t think Cray got any better than this. I carried on listening to his albums – there were some soulful vocals and Stax-styled horns and wotnot but what I like about this album is the sting in his guitar attack. He really can play – I always felt he was one of the underrated players of his time, possibly because his R’n’B/blues style was not in vogue. That works in his favour now as Bad Influence feels like a record that could come from conceivably any time across the last 40 years, including the present day. But I think I like this record still because every time I listen to it I think about how lucky I am to have parents that have stayed interested in music; that still care about finding out new things. I think about when they played this record – when it belonged to them – and the joy our whole family took in the title track and so many of the songs: great singing, great playing, sharp band. Cool album. We loved it. We all love it still. It’s a real family album for me. Oh, and if you ask Darren Watson really nicely he’ll play you a mean version of The Grinder; damn good song that. And D does a helluva version himself.
Sample Track: Phone Booth
The Vinyl Countdown is a document of every LP I listen to, brand new discoveries and old-old favourites; extremely pre-loved, previously abandoned or with the shrink-wrap having just been removed it’s all here at The Vinyl Countdown