Breaking into the R&B Top Ten his very first time out in 1956 with the startlingly intense slow blues "I Can't Quit You Baby," southpaw guitarist Otis Rush subsequently established himself as one of the premier bluesmen on the Chicago circuit. Rush is often credited with being one of the architects of the West side guitar style, along with Magic Sam and Buddy Guy.
Otis Rush's crunching guitar and vocals were never more emphatic than during the '70s when it seemed that he would actually find the pop attention and mass stardom he deserved. These mid-'70s tracks were originally cut for the Black and Blue label, with Rush playing grinding, relentless riffs and creating waves of sonic brilliance through creatively repeated motifs, jagged notes, and sustained lines and licks, while hollering, screaming, moaning, and wailing. Jimmy Dawkins, an outstanding lead artist in his own right, has also long been one of Chicago's great rhythm artists and shows it by adding plenty of tinkling, crackling figures and lines in the backgrounds. While not as consistently riveting as his live Evidence date, this one is also a valuable Rush document.
The music on thie album is 54 years old and represents four years of intensive effort when the artist concerned was at a creativ peak,at the forefront of a dynamic development in Chicago blues.A decade later it made a significant contribution to a major trend in popular music. Tracks 1-16 Original COBRA recordings,Tracks 17-22 Original CHESS recordings.
Troubles, Troubles was originally recorded for Sonet, but is probably better known through its re-release as Lost in the Blues by Alligator. Lost in the Blues was justifiably criticized because of the decision to have Lucky Peterson overdub a bunch of keyboards in order to give it a more "contemporary" (read: more "Alligator") sound. This release is of the original album (with a couple bonus alternate takes) without all the overdubbing, and is a vast improvement over the Alligator version. But how does it stand as an Otis Rush album? It's a very good set – perhaps "comfortable" says it best – recorded with Rush's longstanding band of Bob Levis on rhythm guitar, Bob Stroger on bass, and Jesse Lewis Green on drums (despite what the package says). Recorded during an afternoon at a Stockholm studio while on tour, the band is tight and Rush's guitar and vocals are both in fine form, but the set seems to be lacking the fire that makes Otis Rush such a riveting performer when he's on his game. It's not really that he's going through the motions, because there is some passion to the performances. They just seem, well, comfortable, offering what's expected but little more on this set of covers (with none of Rush's signature tunes). Maybe it was the afternoon recording time, maybe it was the lack of an audience, but Rush just doesn't take it up to the next level the way he's able to. That's really the story of his recording career in microcosm. Considering his very inconsistent discography, you can put this one in the "good" column, but there are several Otis Rush albums you should own before this one. - Sean Westergaard (AMG)