There exists a fertile underbelly to American Music. It is music that never experiences the success of a Jay Z or Beyonce, but is infinitely more vital and fecund than any of the synthesized, IPad-generated, "genius" generated sounds that have come out over the past 20 year. Sorry, but "rad beats" is not everything and second-hand rhymes might raise a woody in any number of print critics reviews...but not this humble one.
Street cred still reigns big, and if you can boast having known Muddy Waters and Elmore James, well, you can have the key to the kingdom. Emmet Ellis, Jr. was born in Homer, Louisiana, before his preacher father took at parish in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Changing his name to Bobby Rush, the singer went on to perform with Boyd Gilmore and James in the 1950s before moving to Chicago, where he became a noted local act.
Between then and now, Bobby Rush flourished in the music industry, producing some 400 recordings and releasing a score of his own albums. At 85-years old, Rush continues to sing with a virility and panache not afforded many decades younger. Bobby Rush came from a generation of artists that once they are gone there will be no more. The politically incorrect "chitlin' circuit" may be a thing of the past, but Rush, Latimore, and a number of others, traveled this circuit in the '40s thru the '60s" playing sweating honky tonks and "road houses."
Rush puts it all together on Sitting On Top of the Blues. A lifetime of music is distilled into 11 superbly realized originals that span the gap between the earthiest delta blues to West Coast funk. Rush's greasey calling card, "Hey Hey Bobby Rush," features an inoculation of slide guitar. He captures his acoustic Delta roots on "Recipe for Love," while stomping some Chicago harmonica blues on "Good Stuff" and "Sweet Lizzy." "Get Out of Here" is what happened to the blues when it had to change.
Sitting on Top of the Blues is far from a valedictory recording like Johnny Cash's American Recordings. Ruch does not appear to be slowing down. When a younger generation tires of what passes for music today, they would do well to look this up and see what honesty sounds like.
Hey Hey Bobby Rush; Good Stuff; Get Out of Here; You Got the Goods on You; Sweet Lizzy;
Recipe for Love; Bobby Rush Shuffle; Pooky Poo; Slow Motion; Shake Til’ You Get Enough;
Bobby Rush: vocals, harmonica; Patrick Hayes: guitar, organ; Vasti Johnson: guitar, bass,
drums; Paul Sinegal: guitar; Roddie Romero: guitar; Lee Allen Zeno: bass; Tony Hall: bass;
Terrance Higgins: drums; Doug Belote: drums; Raymond WeberL drums; Kieko Komaki:
organ; Alonzo Bowen: saxophones; Michael Campo Trumpet; Terrance Taplin: trombone; Joe