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Otis Rush -

Essential Otis Rush: The Classic Cobra Recordings 1956-1958

Date: 1956-1958
Release: Varese Sarabande #061077
Cover Art: view / download
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Stevie Ray Vaughan named his band after one of his songs. Michael Bloomfield was so moved by his music that he produced him. Eric Clapton imitated his vocal style. Led Zeppelin covered his music. For what he managed to achieve throughout his long illustrious career, Otis Rush is perhaps the most underrated bluesman in the history of the genre. For decades he was one of the great movers and shakers of the blues. It was he, along with fellow singer/guitarists Buddy Guy and Magic Sam, who in the 1950s invented what was coined the “West Side” blues sound. Each musician had his own distinct style that set him apart from his peers and recorded music that influenced a generation of bluesmen. But song for song it is arguably Otis Rush who has made the biggest impact of the three.

In the mid to late 1950s Otis cut a series of classic singles for the fledgeling Cobra label. Willie Dixon had recently jumped from the Chess label over to Cobra and he immediately took to nurturing Rush’s recording career. All of the classics that they waxed are on this CD. It starts with Rush’s first hit single “I Can’t Quit You Baby”, which was later covered by Led Zeppelin. It’s a veritable showcase for the young guitarists vocal prowess, which would later be aped by everyone from Eric Clapton to Peter Green (his vocal impact on both gentlemen can be heard even more clearly on the cd Chicago/The Blues Today!).

“All Your Love (I Miss Loving)”, a tune later covered by Clapton during his Bluesbreakers days, shows Rush’s range and originality as the song goes from a straight blues to what could best be described as a calypso beat to end the song. “My Love Will Never Die” features an almost funereal horn section and Rush’s vocals bore right through as he wails and pleads with all the tortured longing of an abandoned lover. It honestly sounds as if he’s had his insides kicked out and is as intense a song as the blues has to offer, ranking alongside the greatest tormented offerings of Son House and Howlin’ Wolf,.

“Double Trouble” is another ode to loneliness and desperation that greatly impacted musicians such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, who borrowed the title to name his band. It is lyrically one of his most impressive efforts and his minor phrasings would later vastly influence the style of Peter Green, who covered the tune while with John Mayall’s bluesbreakers. “Groaning the Blues”, “Three Times a Fool”, “Checking on My Baby”….all first rate blues songs.

There are a few clunkers here but the classic cuts more than make up for it. This album is essential for any blues collection.

Players:

  • Otis Rush – Vocals, Guitar
  • Little Walter – Harmonica
  • Willie Dixon – Bass

Tracks:

  1. I Can’t Quit You Baby
  2. Sit Down Baby
  3. Violent Love
  4. My Love Will Never Die
  5. Groaning the Blues
  6. If You Were Mine
  7. Love That Woman
  8. Jump Sister Bessie
  9. Three Times a Fool
  10. She’s a Good ‘Un
  11. It Takes Time
  12. Checking on My Baby
  13. Double Trouble
  14. Keep on Loving Me Baby
  15. All Your Love (I Miss Loving)
  16. My Baby Is a Good ‘Un
  17. I Can’t Quit You Baby [Take 3]
  18. Little Red Rooster
  19. Groaning the Blues [Take 3]
  20. My Love Will Never Die [Take Unknown] What’s Going On (3:52)

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