Top 10 Robert Cray Songs
Robert Cray is considered one of the lasts remaining of the blues king’s era, besides Buddy Guy, Jimmy Vaughan, Robben Ford, and Clapton. Awarded with five Grammys, since the 1970s, he has played with several blues legends like Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland, the Vaughan brothers, and B.B. King. Throughout all these years, Cray has released more than 25 albums as a solo artist or on behalf of the “The Robert Cray Band”. The smooth voice and cleanness of Cray’s guitar tone are unmistakable and have become his registered trademark. Below are our selected top 10 songs by Robert Cray, which we think can represent, as much as possible, all his contributions to blues music.
10. “Nothin’ But A Woman”
This song is omnipresent on the 10/10 blues collection ever made. It’s a classic by Robert Cray that marked the whole 1980s. It’s part of Strong Persuader (1985) album.
9. “I Guess I’ll Never Know”
From the late harvest of Cray’s blues albums (In My Soul, 2014), “I Guess I’ll Never Know” keeps maintaining the finesse and balance between guitar and horns, as always showed in Cray’s previous albums.
8. “I Shiver”
First recorded on the album Shame + A Sin (1993), that’s another song where Cray doesn’t spare good taste and bluesy guitar vocabulary.
7. “Phone Booth”
“Phone Booth” is a song first recorded in 1983 by Albert King in I’m In A Phone Booth, Baby album. Robert Cray also released this song on the album Bad Influence (1983) and in 2003, in the album Heritage Of The Blues: Phone Booth.
6. “Poor Johnny”
From the album Twenty (2005), this song narrates the tale of Johnny, a man who cheated on his family to try to live another life with his new “friends”. It’s a bluesy ballad with a nice clean guitar solo.
5. “Smoking Gun”
One of the greatest hits by Robert Cray, also part of Strong Persuader album. This song reached # 2 on the Billboard Rock Album Tracks as a single in 1986. This song was re-released in the album Cookin’ In Mobile (2009).
4. “Back Door Slam”
This song is part of the album Time Will Tell (2003). “Back Door Slam” is a huge classic by Robert Cray, and this song was the inspiration for the name of Davy Knowles’ first band.
3. “Blues Get Off My Shoulder”
With the traditional horn section, vastly used by Cray in his records, this song is part of the album Nothing But Love (2012).
2. “You Move Me”
Another one from the album In My Soul. Unmistakable guitar tones, precise vocal lines, and cohesive bases. That’s the recipe for a successful song!
1. “Right Next Door” (Because Of Me)
Definitely, Strong Persuader was one of the most successful albums by Robert Cray. Besides other classics listed above from that album, “Right Next Door (Because Of Me)” was an absolute phenomenon in the 1980s. Its lyrics tell the story where Cray himself is the subject of a couple’s fight. It’s another Cray class on the subject of elegance, guitar tone, and notes selection.
4 thoughts on “Top 10 Robert Cray Songs”
As with any artist who has released more than 15 albums it’s hard to pin down a top 10. What makes it more difficult for Robert Cray is that he walks the line between blues and soul easily and sometimes it is the latter that dominates the albums. This list is okay but some that would have made my list are I Guess I Showed Her, The Forecast (Calls For Pain), Bad Influence, Great Big Old House, 1040 Blues, Foul Play and I Can’t Quit all Cray (or at least Cray Band) originals. Of the covers Too Many Cooks, Got To Make A Comeback, Sleeping In The Ground and You’re Gonna Need Me are also worthy inclusions. Seems that a Top 10 doesn’t do full justice to a man whose career is now over 40 years.
“Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” is probably my favourite. Not sure which of his albums it comes from.
All good songs, and I know it’s very personal to some extent, but this list suffers from overemphasis on the early years (which were important to his career because that’s when he gained exposure, had some minor hits that got radio play, had some MTV exposure and performed on some late night shows), and the latter years (2003 – present, emphasis on R&B/soul).
What’s missing are selections from the center, early 90’s – early noughts, an artistically spectacular period that includes CD’s like I Was Warned, Some Rainy Morning, Sweet Potato Pie and Shoulda Been Home. There are many pieces on these sessions that are magnificent, and really ought to have become culturally “important”, songs that sound better on the 20th listening than the 3rd, that seem to always be willing to reveal more riches, and that contain “impossible” moments. Also, this work draws from a larger variety of influences than the other phases which are a little more predictable.
For a career like RC’s, I believe ten is an inappropriate list length, kind of like with the Beatles and a few others.
I was present at the ‘Gorge’, in Washington State 1989, …listened to R. Cray, thought he was ten times better than, Stevie Ray… Cray went on a tangent of guitar numbers, for an extended time… Where are these lost tapping’s of that recorded- tangent he went on that night? Absolutely amazing! But, knew they weren’t his run of the mill everyday songs. How can I hear these scores again? I know they were recorded; but now lost in a sea of music out there. These were improv’ (Sp.). And want to experience again! His guitar wails were out of this world, and I know these lost-recording’s, are somewhere… can you direct me to? Without charge, want to hear again, and save… Please, am desperate for… TY, DFC