Recorded in San Francisco for Capitol Records in 1971 but not released until 1976 on Bullfrog.
Personnel: Otis Rush (vocals, guitar); Fred Burton (guitar); Hart McNee (alto saxophone); Rev. Ron Stallings (tenor saxophone); John Wilmeth (trumpet); Mark Naftalin (piano); Ira Kamin (organ); Bob Jones (drums).
Liner Note Author: Dick Shurman.
Recording information: Wally Heider Studio, San Francisco, CA (02/1971).
Photographer: Amy O'Neal.
This recording session was not released until five years after it was done. One can imagine the tapes practically smoldering in their cases, the music is so hot. Sorry, there is nothing "wrong" about this blues album at all. Otis Rush was a great blues expander, a man whose guitar playing was in every molecule pure blues. On his solos on this album he strips the idea of the blues down to very simple gestures (i.e., a bent string, but bent in such a subtle way that the seasoned blues listener will be surprised). As a performer he opens up the blues form with his chord progressions and use of horn sections, the latter instrumentation again added in a wonderfully spare manner, bringing to mind a master painter working certain parts of a canvas in order to bring in more light. Blues fans who get tired of the same old song structures, riff, and rhythms should be delighted with most of Rush's output, and this one is among his best. Sometimes all he does to make a song sound unlike any blues one has ever heard is just a small thing -- a chord moving up when one expects it go down, for example. The production is particularly skilled, and the fact that Capitol Records turned this session down after originally producing it can only be reasonably accepted when combined with other decisions this label has made, such as turning down the Doors because singer Jim Morrison had "no charisma." This record doesn't mess around at all. The first track takes off like the man they fire out of a cannon at the end of a circus, a perceived climax swaggeringly representing just the beginning, after all. Some of the finest tracks are the ones that go longer than five minutes, allowing the players room to stretch. And that means more of Rush's great guitar playing, of course. For the final track he leaves the blues behind completely for a moving cover version of "Rainy Night in Georgia" by Tony Joe White. ~ Eugene Chadbourne