Bobby Lance, a Tarrytown native and Greenburgh Middle School music teacher, has recently had two solo albums rereleased by Real Gone Music as a one disc double album entitled “First Peace/Rollin’ Man.”
Lance, a singer and songwriter, is best known for writing Aretha Franklin’s hit “The House That Jack Built” with his sister and partner Fran Robins. The song made it to the Top 10 on both the pop and R&B charts in 1968. That hit gave Lance the opportunity to record his own solo album with Atlantic Records in 1971.
Originally from Brooklyn, Lance’s music has a soulful, Southern blues and rock sound. He feels the new album will give his music a second chance with songs now to be heard by a new audience. The “First Peace/Rollin’ Man” disc has two albums that were never really heard, even though they had big names in and behind them.
A review of the new CD by online music magazine Rebeat says the content features a lineup of musicians familiar to anyone who’s studied the liner notes of the Atlantic Record label’s classic soul albums of the era. The Swampers, house band for Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, serves as Lance’s core group, while legendary saxophonist King Curtis leads the horn section, and the gospel group the Sweet Inspirations provides the backing vocals. Lance, for his part, leads with a gutsy, Southern-inflected voice of surprising range and intensity, well suited for the soulful ballads and bluesy rockers comprising the album, the review said.
The review also notes that “More Than Enough Rain” is by far the best-known song on either of Lance’s LPs, due to the rumor that Duane Allman plays slide guitar on the track. “Bill Kopp’s liner notes for this reissue presents it as fact, but it’s apparently still a source of debate for avid Allman Brothers fans,” the article states.
Both “First Peace” and “Rollin’ Man” did not do well when they were originally released because of a legal battle between Atlantic Records and Motown Records that resulted in a lack of exposure for the albums and limited copies being released.
According to Rebeat, at some point before the release of “First Peace” Lance had also managed to sign a songwriting contract with Motown Records. The legal wrangling between the two labels resulted in a decision that they would split the profits of Lance’s albums. The result was that Atlantic had little interest in promoting a record in which it had only a limited financial stake. “Rollin’ Man,” released the following year, is far more stripped down, probably due to budgetary restrictions.
Lance eventually went back to school and started a career in education. For the last 14 years he has been teaching music in Greenburgh. As Choral Director he has written many of the songs performed by his students.
Lance says that the rerelease of his albums has, “rekindled the fire to go out and perform, which I had always loved to do.” Currently, Lance is writing, arranging and recording with his son Mitch, who has his own band called Freelance.