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Bobby Rush Raw
Deep Rush Records

 By James “Skyy Dobro” Walker
13 songs; 51:58 minutes; Excellen

For someone new to the Blues, or new to Bobby Rush, this CD could be a good starting place. As the title Raw implies (as well as the cover photo of him barely covered), the music is performed in stripped down fashion almost completely by Rush himself.

In the Blues world, Rush is a giant with a career spanning decades. His full band live shows are legendary for read-deal blues, earthy good humor, and the dancing booty-girls. Now, imagine all the trappings gone leaving only Rush with acoustic guitar, harmonica, stomping feet for rhythm, and singing. That approach recapitulates the earliest bluesmen: solo and acoustic with just the human voice communicating deep feelings.

Rush is 67 years old which puts him in a later generation of blues singers born in the South. With this CD, he is not trying to re-do Robert Johnson, as many artists like Rory Block and Eric Clapton have done. The album does convince listeners that Rush has the music in his bones and that everything else starts with that.

All the songs are written by Rush except the surprising choice for the opening track, “Boney Maroney” plus “School Girl” and “Howlin ‘ Wolf.” Shawn Kellerman plays Dobro slide guitar for 3 tracks. While the remaining songs are originals, echoes of blues standards can be heard here and there. For example, “What’s Going On” is reminiscent to Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightnin.’” The protagonist’s “3 Problems” on the last track are the familiar, “woman, girlfriend, and wife.”

For up tempo fun, try “Knockin’ On Your Door.” Studio overdubbing allows some interesting magic impossible for the earliest artists. On “I’m Tired” Rush plays a standard harmonica and a chromatic harmonica in unison.

With this CD, not even the harshest critics can dismiss Rush as just a flashy showman. His blues are real and raw!

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