Friday, January 11, 2008

The Essential Otis Rush – the Classic Cobra Recordings 1956-1958

Another batch of 50’s recordings, but this is much slicker and fuller – a more jump’n’jive, boogie-woogie blues with a complete band augmented with horns – certainly not plantation blues!
Fine stuff, though, starting with “I Can’t Quit You Baby”, which is where Led Zep got the idea for “their” song of the same name. Willie Dixon wrote and played on a number of tunes, as well as other Chicago greats such as Little Walter, Odie Payne and many more.

There are plenty of straight-ahead blues numbers, such as “Groaning the Blues”, “She’s a Good ‘Un”, “It Takes Time”, etc, that showcase Otis’ fine guitar playing. When the horns are added to the mix, it takes on a bit of a BB King flavor to my ears – like “Checking on my Baby” – but there’s nothing wrong with that!

Rush also explores more minor-key arrangements and even different rhythms, which add to the complexity and variety of his blues. There are plenty of upbeat, swinging boogies, and his fine voice is balanced with lots of cool guitar licks.

Again, a little more polished than some of the other bluesmen of the time, but still great tunes!