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Otis Rush
 So Many Roads: Live in Concert, Delmark Records CD DE-643 (56:05)

Chicago blues in Tokyo style

Like any great blues guitarist, Otis Rush is able to play it soft and play it sweet. From the very beginning of this live performance recorded in Tokyo in the summer of 1975, he shows the ability to do both extremely well. The first cut, "Will My Woman Be Home Tonight," is an instrumental that immediately displays Rush's guitar versatility. He has a distinctive electrifying technique that's deep and resonant. When he combines his guitar work with vocals - showing great range and often wailing into a high falsetto - Rush shows he's a consummate blues performer.

Thanks in part to an enthusiastic, flower-filled reception at Tokyo's Haneda Airport when he first arrived, Rush went on to have what was described as one of the best performances of his career. In a concert that included Big Joe Williams, Little Brother Montgomery and the Jimmy Dawkins band featuring Jimmy Johnson, Rush gave a very appreciative audience what it paid for. Although this is certainly not the typical venue one thinks of for listening to the blues, the clarity of the CD is especially good. At times it's hard to tell this was recorded live.

The songs range from his signature "I Can't Quit You, Baby" written by Willie Dixon, which Rush originally recored in 1956, to the classic "Everyday I Have the Blues" to the scathing "I've Got News For You." But it is on his original composition "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)" where Rush really begins to cook. He seems especially in command at this point. "All your love, I miss lovin' / All your kiss, I miss kissin' / Before I met you baby, I didn't know what I was missin'." His ringing guitar riffs make a swift change to a four-four beat with a walking bass line and the entire band begins to swing. Rush then returns to the familiar and appealing guitar ringing.

Born on April 29, 1934, Rush's family moved to Chicago in 1948 as part of the great mass migration from the Deep South. In the Fifties he began touring with Jimmy Reed, T-Bone Walker and Little Richard. Although Rush didn't record his first album until 1969, he had already cut a number of singles. You can find his earliest recordings on the Cobra and Chess labels. Backed by a competent band that included Jimmy Johnson on rhythm guitar, Rush displays his depth and range with both guitar and voice. The resulting CD from these two live performances recorded nine days apart easily passes the test of time, and would be a welcome addition to any blues fan's collection. -  Mark Craemer

production notes & song titles

Otis Rush, vocals, lead guitar; Jimmy Johnson, rhythm guitar; Sylvester Boines, bass; Tyrone Centuray, drums.

Recorded in concert July 20th & 29th, 1975 at Hibiya Park, Tokyo cooperatively by Trio Records and Delmark Records. Produced for U.S. issue by Steve Tomashefsky.

Introduction  Will My Woman Be Home Tonight (Blue Guitar)  Everyday I Have The Blues  I Can't Quit You, Baby  Crosscut Saw  Looking Back (Take A Look Behind)  Chitlins Con Carne  I've Got News For You  Mean Old World  All Your Love (I Miss Loving)  So Many Roads  Gambler's Blues  Three Times A Fool

Copyright © 1996 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.