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An Introduction to Otis Rush

Otis Rush

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Album Review

Otis Rush's singles for Eli Tuscanno's Chicago-based Cobra Records imprint were somewhat of a revelation when he recorded them between 1956 and 1958. Rush combined the electric country blues ensemble approach of Muddy Waters with the more urbane single-string guitar leads of B.B. King on these strikingly intense minor key classics, creating what later became known as "West Side blues." The atmosphere on songs here like Willie Dixon's "I Can't Quit You Baby" and "My Love Will Never Die" is thick and tense, by turns mournful and defiant, while Rush's own compositions like "Double Trouble" (which features Rush trading his smooth, elegant guitar leads with a manic-sounding Ike Turner) and his signature rhumba blues "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)" retain the same level of desperate immediacy. This is indeed the truly essential Otis Rush, and by all rights his career should have blown huge, but a series of unrelated events conspired to keep Rush from the truly massive audience he deserved. This set has the crucial Cobra sides, and adds four live bonus tracks (including a muscular version of "Crosscut Saw") to make an adequate introduction to this great bluesman, but Varèse Sarabande's Essential Collection: The Classic Cobra Recordings from 2000 adds B-sides and alternate takes, making it the last word on these magnificent and explosive recordings.

Biography

Born: 29 April 1934 in Philadelphia, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Breaking into the R&B Top Ten his very first time out in 1956 with the startlingly intense slow blues "I Can't Quit You Baby," southpaw guitarist Otis Rush subsequently established himself as one of the premier bluesmen on the Chicago circuit. Rush is often credited with being one of the architects of the West side guitar style, along with Magic Sam and Buddy Guy. It's a nebulous honor, since Rush played clubs on Chicago's South side just as frequently during the sound's late-'50s incubation...
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