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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Otis Rush

And Friends - Live At Montreux 1986

Review by Gary Hill

I have to admit a couple things up front. First off, I find that a lot of blues tends to sound too much alike and can't get boring after a while. Secondly, while I can appreciate the work of Eric Clapton on a lot of stuff, I find at other points in his career he's seemed be on autopilot and not too impressive. Well, now that I've ticked off all the Clapton fans, let me talk about why I needed to put both of those concepts out there. This live recording from Otis Rush (also available on an awesome DVD) is definitely an exception to that first bias that I have. There isn't a weak song on the entire album, and if you get bored with this, I don't really have any advice for you. Secondly, Eric Clapton, who's featured on about half of this album, is purely on fire here. Not to take anything away from Rush (or Luther Allison who guests on the last track), everyone here is at the top of their game on this disc. If you are a fan of the blues, why don't you already have this album? If you have a passing interest in the musical style, there is probably no better starting point than this killer release.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Tops
This mid-tempo jam is a great way to start off the show. It's an extremely tasty instrumental cut that does a nice job of setting the mode for the killer blues that's about to ensue.
Natural Ball
With more of a fast paced shuffling texture, this is another smoking blues number in a show that's full of them. For my money, the guitar soloing on this one is tastier than that on the previous piece. This is another killer groove. It also includes some exceptional keyboard soloing.
Right Place Wrong Time
This time Rush turns his attention to a slower, but very powerful blues. It's another very effective number.
Mean Old World
Another cut that has a shuffling sort of texture, the lead guitar certainly steals the show on this one. The man thoroughly tears up the fret board. It's also another where the keyboards get their share of the spotlight with a nice solo.
You Don't Love Me
A bit slower, this is no less a powerful blues jam.
Crosscut Saw
This is the first track on the disc to include the skills of Eric Clapton. It has a bit more of a rock and roll texture to it, but that doesn't mean that it has lost its blues sensibility one bit. As one can imagine this includes some great guitar soloing, and in fact some awesome dueling solos. It turns just a little funky later, too.
Double Trouble
This one is the slowest cut on show here, with an awesome emotional blues ballad approach. If I had to pick one I'd say this powerful jam is my favorite on the disc. All the musicians put in some impressive work here and the effect is simply stunning. In addition to providing guitar Clapton lends his vocals to this one.
All Your Love (I Miss Loving)
To me the groove on this one almost feels along the lines of Santana's more bluesy territory. At least it has a little bit of a Latin texture on the percussion. Clapton sings on this one, too. It also includes some of the tastier guitar work of the disc. Mind you, there isn't a song on show here where the guitar isn't purely awesome. It's just some seem to standout a bit more than others. The trading off approach is quite effective towards that aspect. 
Every Day I Have The Blues
Well, now the group gets even more impressive. This cut features not only Rush and Clapton, but also Luther Allison. You just don't get much better than that. This is an impressive shuffling blues that just plain rocks. Allison takes the vocals on the cut, and it makes a great set closer.  

 
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