Tuesday, October 26, 2021

"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" by The Robert Cray Band

Song#:  3655
Date:  09/24/1988
Debut:  88
Peak:  74
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Blues-Rock

Pop Bits:  Blues guitarist/singer Robert Cray earned a left-field hit in 1986 with his single "Smoking Gun." Taken from his fourth album Strong Persuader, the song would reach #2 on the Rock chart while making it to #22 Pop. The album would reach #13 and go double-platinum. By the late summer of '88, Cray and his band had prepared the follow-up LP Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. It basically followed the same formula as its predecessor and to kick things off the title track was issued out as the first single. The song would do well at Rock getting to #4, but this time around a more mainstream pop audience wasn't biting and it stalled near the bottom quarter mark of the Pop chart. Another single, "Acting This Way," got to #24 Rock, but failed to make the Pop chart. With those results, the LP wouldn't do as well as Strong Persuader and stalled out at #32. However, it sold well enough to go gold. This song would be Cray's last to reach the Pop chart. The album would go on to win a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Recording.

ReduxReview:  While it was a good song, "Smoking Gun" was a bit of a fluke. Not a lot of blues-rock tunes make the Pop chart and this one came out just at the right time and it gained Cray a sizable audience outside of his blues fans. However, Cray just wasn't the type of artist that was going to have a streak of hit singles. Just getting a second Top 40 entry would have been pretty remarkable. Yet it seems Strong Persuader was just enough blues for many folks so when his next album and this single came out, people had moved on to something else. It did well at Rock and rightfully so, but it was too bad that it got ignored by pop radio. It was another good pop/rock/blues track that sounded good enough to make its way further up the chart. Perhaps if it had a really cool MTV video it might have done better. Still, Cray had enough loyal fans to make the album and his next one go gold. That is a solid accomplishment for a blues artist.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although Cray's time in the pop chart sunshine was brief, he continued to do fairly well in the rock market. His next album, 1990's Midnight Stroll would get to #51 and become another gold seller thanks to a pair of songs that made the Rock chart including the #11 "The Forecast (Calls for Pain)." Although he would only get one more song on the Rock chart in '92, his five further albums released in the 90s all sold a few copies and registered on the Album chart. He has since continued to record albums and tour maintaining a loyal blues-rock following. Over the years, Cray has won five Grammys and has been nominated for ten more.


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