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The Sonet Blues Story: Otis Rush - Troubles, Troubles

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Album Review

Troubles, Troubles was originally recorded for Sonet, but is probably better known through its re-release as Lost in the Blues by Alligator. Lost in the Blues was justifiably criticized because of the decision to have Lucky Peterson overdub a bunch of keyboards in order to give it a more "contemporary" (read: more "Alligator") sound. This release is of the original album (with a couple bonus alternate takes) without all the overdubbing, and is a vast improvement over the Alligator version. But how does it stand as an Otis Rush album? It's a very good set — perhaps "comfortable" says it best — recorded with Rush's longstanding band of Bob Levis on rhythm guitar, Bob Stroger on bass, and Jesse Lewis Green on drums (despite what the package says). Recorded during an afternoon at a Stockholm studio while on tour, the band is tight and Rush's guitar and vocals are both in fine form, but the set seems to be lacking the fire that makes Otis Rush such a riveting performer when he's on his game. It's not really that he's going through the motions, because there is some passion to the performances. They just seem, well, comfortable, offering what's expected but little more on this set of covers (with none of Rush's signature tunes). Maybe it was the afternoon recording time, maybe it was the lack of an audience, but Rush just doesn't take it up to the next level the way he's able to. That's really the story of his recording career in microcosm. Considering his very inconsistent discography, you can put this one in the "good" column, but there are several Otis Rush albums you should own before this one.

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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