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Otis Rush- Tops
Original Release Date: 1985

1. Right Place, Wrong Time (Rush) - 6:12
2. Crosscut Saw (Ford) - 4:38
3. Tops (Rush) - 3:55
4. Feel So Bad (Willis) - 4:10
5. Gambler's Blues (Willis) - 4:10
6. Keep on Loving Me Baby (Rush) - 2:54
7. I Wonder Why (Hooker) - 7:52

Review (by Tommy Chung)
In 1948, Otis Rush moved from Mississippi to Chicago. He has recorded some all time classics like Double Trouble, All Your Love and I Can't Quit You Baby. Some people say his recordings under the Cobra label recorded between 1956 and 1958 were his best recordings. These recordings are basically 48rpm A sides and B sides and can be found on Otis Rush: His Cobra Recordings (Flyright FLYCD 001). To me, these recordings are bit rough and ready and I could feel Otis was still trying to refine his music when these songs were recorded. In recent years, Otis Rush has released several recordings worthy of note including Right Place, Wrong Time on Hightone Records (HCD-8007), Lost In The Blues on Alligator (ALCD 4797), and Ain't Enough Coming In.

Otis Rush has a great voice and he is pretty much a laid back guitarist. He is left- handed and like Albert King, plays with the high E string on top. Frankly speaking, the guitar of Otis Rush is too laid back to ever catch fire, it only smothers and he has a limited amount of licks on the guitar. His recent recordings are sometimes too laid back for me and at times one song sounds so similar to another that you have to pick up the sleeve to check if there is something wrong with your hearing. But no doubt about it, the man has class and is a master of his own. He has his own style. Whether you like it or not is a different matter, but he is the master of the laid back style of Blues.

Tops was recorded live recorded at the 1985 San Francisco Blues Festival. This is Otis Rush at his best. The backing band included bass, drums, rhythm guitar, piano and a horn section comprising a trumpet and a saxophone. Otis plays in his own relaxed and unhurried style. The backing band was smoking and Otis's voice and guitar worked perfectly with the band. The CD kicked off with Right Place, Wrong Time which very much set the tempo for the whole recording. Otis did a version of Crosscut Saw which suited ideally to his laid back and sporadic stop-start solo picking. The highlights of the recording are Tops and Feel So Bad. Tops is an instrumental track, with beautiful guitar work, tasty and sweet as an apple. It is a lesson in guitar economics. It really shows you don't have to be lightning fast, cramming hundreds of notes into a solo line to make it sound good. Feel So Bad is another great track. Otis Rush's guitar sounds so good on this.

Otis Rush is undoubtedly a master of this style of laid back Blues. No one comes close. He may not exactly set fire to your hi-fi stereo, but he can sure touch you with his intensity and emotion.

Extended Listening

-Luther Allison- Live in Chicago

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