Hebb, Bobby

Band members               Related acts

- Bobby Hebb (aka Robert Van Hebb) (RIP 2010) - vocals,





- Bobby and Sylvia

- The Smokey Mountain Boys





Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Sunny

Company: Philips

Catalog: PHM 200-212 

Year: 1966

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Country/State: Nashville, Tennessee

Comments: mono pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4153

Price: $10.00

Cost: $1.00


Interesting how quirky things can be.  I was going through a pile of LPs I'd bought over the last couple of months and stumbled across a mono copy of "Sunny" I'd found a couple of weeks earlier at a local yard sale.  For some reason I pulled it out and took it downstairs dumping it in my 'to listen to pile'.  Tonight I was watching the evening news and saw a segment announcing that the 72 year old Hebb had died of lung cancer that morning.  I can't say I know a lot about Hebb and I'm certainly not a charter member of the Hebb fan club, but from a distance he's always struck me as a class act.  


August 3, 2010


Born into a musical family, Bobby Hebb's musical career started as a child.  Barely out of diapers, he started dancing and singing with older brother Hal and by the mid-1940s the pair were staples on the Nashville clubs scene.   In the early-1950s he became a member of Roy Acuff's Smokey Mountain Boys.  The mid-1950s found him living and working in Chicago.  Following a three year tour in the Navy (he spent the entire three years playing in a Navy band), he returned to Nashville and started a solo career with support from WLAC disc jockey John Richbourg.  Signed to Richbourg's Rich label, he made his debit with a pair of singles: 


- 1960's 'Night Train To Memphis' b/w 'You Gotta Go' (Rich catalog number 0001)

- 1960's 'Cherry' b/w 'Feel So Good' (Rich catalog number 0006)


The early-1960s found Hebb working on the New York City club circuit, including Sylvia Robinson's Blue Morocco Club.  When Robinson's partnership with Mickey Baker ended, she drafted Hebb as Mickey's replacement, the act aptly renamed Bobby & Sylvia. 



Having scored a massive international hit with the exceptionally cool single 'Sunny' b/w 'Bread' (Philips catalog number 40305), it was only natural that Bobby Hebb would find himself given an opportunity to record a supporting album.  What's interesting is that unlike most supporting LPs, 1966's Jerry Ross produced "Sunny" was surprisingly impressive.  Equally interesting, at first the set didn't come off as being a traditional soul album in that it was too diverse for such a genre label.  Gifted with an exceptionally versatile voice, Hebb took capable stabs at pop ('Where Are You?'), blues ('Got You On My Mind') and even Motown-styled soul ('Good Good Lovin'').  That said, the underlying feel was soul and some of the strongest songs, including 'You Don't Know What You Got Until You Lose It', Hebb's own 'Crazy Baby' and 'Bread' had a distinctive soul feel.  The title track remained the standout performance, but the entire LP is worth hearing.


- Geez, the title track to this LP is literally one of the first songs I remember hearing on the radio as a child ...  Ironically it wasn't until I was in my twenties that I found a copy of the parent LP, let alone learned 'Sunny' wasn't a love song to a woman, rather a tribute to Hebb's older brother Hai who was killed in a mugging the day after John F. Kennedy's assassination.  About all you an say is that the song's a pop and soul class.   rating: ***** stars

- While Hebb turned in a nice vocal on 'Where Are You?' this one was simply too MOR to have much appeal.  Shame.   rating: ** stars

- To my ears, 'Got You On My Mind' was one of the album's biggest surprises.  I simply did not expect Hebb to turn in a credible blues number like this, but he made it sound effortless.   One of my favorite songs on the LP.   rating: **** stars

- Another Hebb original, 'Yes or No or Maybe No' underscored that Hebb could belt out a true soul track without any problem.  Delivered with a likeable raw vocal, this was another one of the LP highlights.   rating: **** stars

- A breezy, mid-tempo track, 'Good Good Lovin'' was okay, but ultimately a bit too middle of the road for the song's own good.  The heavy strings and female backing vocals just pushed the performance over the edge into saccharine.  rating: ** stars

- 'Love, Love, Love' was probably the album's most straight-out commercial track, which makes you wonder why it wasn't tapped as the second single (it was the 'B' side for the sophomore 45).  Great upbeat melody with a hook that wormed its way into your head and a warm and winning vocal performance.   rating: **** stars  

- 'A Satisfied Mind' started side two with a weird folk-tinged number.  Admittedly, the song got better as it went along - particularly when Hebb unveiled his 'pissed off'' voice, but it wasn't particularly commercial which left you to wonder why Philips tapped it as the follow-on single.   rating: *** stars  

- In spite of the clunky title, the heavily orchestrated ballad 'You Don't Know What You Got Until You Lose It' was probably one of the tracks best suited for mid-1960s top-40 airplay.  Pretty melody and Hebb turned in a nice vocal on the number.   rating: *** stars

- At its core 'I Am Your Man' was a soul number, but producer Jerry Ross effectively buried the song's guts with a bland pop sheen.  Shame since Hebb turned in a growling voice that would have been far better served by a rawer R&B arrangement.    rating: ** stars

- The third and final Hebb original, 'Crazy Baby' had the album's most rock-flavored feel and sound which served to make it one of the standout performances.   Would have made a good choice for a single.  rating: **** stars

- Anyone who doubted Hebb's credentials as a soul singer need only check out 'Bread'.  I'm not sure I can aptly describe it, but on this one Hebb's delivery had a weird little whine that actually reminded me a little bit of the late Otis Redding.  Fantastic song.  rating: ***** stars

- To my ears 'For You' sounded like Hebb trying to channel Sam Cooke.  As a big Sam Cooke fan, that wasn't meant as a criticism.  Another song that served to showcase Hebb's soul roots and would have made a good choice as a single.  rating: **** stars


The album was tapped for a follow-up single which also went top-40:



- 1966's 'A Satisfied Mind' b/w 'Love, Love, Love' (Philips catalog number 40400) 


"Sunny" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Sunny  (Bobby Hebb) - 2:45

2.) Where Are You?   (Adamson - McHugh) - 2:34

3.) Got You On My Mind   (Biggs - Thomas) - 2:40

4.) Yes or No or Maybe Not  (Bobby Hebb) - 2:29

5.) Good Good Lovin'   (Cynthia Weil - Barry Mann - Weil) - 2:45

6.) Love, Love, Love   (Jerry Renzetti - Jerry Ross) - 3:30


(side 2)

1.) A Satisfied Mind   (Hayes - Rhodes) - 2:47

2.) You Don't Know What You Got Until You Lose It   (Kenny Gamble - Jerry Ross) - 2:45

3.) I Am Your Man   (Roach) - 2:31

4.) Crazy Baby  (Bobby Hebb) - 2:15

5.) Bread   (Jerry Renzetti - Jerry Ross) - 2:28

6.) For You   (Van McCoy) - 2:41