Ruf Records

Ruf Records

Ruf Records RUF 1121

By Art Tipaldi
March 2007

In January of this year, the Blues Foundation presented Ruf Records the 2007 “Keeping the Blues Alive Award” for its 12 years of dedicated service.

Ruf Records celebrated the event by issuing a retrospective sampler of its years of music. In 1989, founder and owner Thomas Ruf left his family’s farm in southern Germany and became Luther Allison’s tour manager. Like all of us who came under Allison’s spell, Ruf wanted to turn others onto his music.

Five years later, in 1994, he decided that opening a label could better promote the career of this extraordinary musician. Though Ruf runs the label from his home in the tiny village of Lindewerra, Germany, he has always been committed to recording and promoting the finest American bluesmen and blueswomen he can find.

In this collection, Ruf looked back on each of his 12 years, selected the finest record from that year, and cherry picked what he felt was the stand-out track. In his liner notes, he provides the fan with a history of the Ruf label, as well as some ideas on Ruf’s business plan.

Because Luther Allison is still a great influence on Ruf, the disc begins with Allison’s 1994 “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is,” from his Bad Love album (released in the U.S. on Alligator Records as Soul Fixin’ Man.)

The 1996 cut features Luther’s son, Bernard Allison updating traditional blues with “Live Together.” From there, Ruf includes tracks from Canned Heat, Larry Garner, Omar and the Howlers, Candye Kane, and Sue Foley.

Ruf calls his label the place where “blues crosses over,” so there are also newcomers like British blues rocker Aynsley Lister, Yugoslavian string-slasher Ana Popovic, and songwriter Ian Parker, to round out his talented roster.

No Ruf Records retrospective would be complete without a song from its best-selling guitarist, Walter Trout. For this disc, Ruf hand-picked a high-octane cut with Jeff Healey, a newly signed 2007 Ruf artist, from Trout’s critically acclaimed Full Circle disc.

These 13 tracks certainly offer enough music, but Ruf didn’t stop there. He also included a 13-track DVD of live performances by Ruf artists. In 2004, Ruf began to pioneer the recording and production of DVD’s of its artists. The DVD kicks off into bluesville with the Ruf Records Blues Caravan act from 2006.

After that, Sue Foley steps out to sing “Absolution,” from 2006.

Other highlights include a 2006 live shot of Bernard Allison and Omar and the Howlers.

One of the most outstanding Ruf releases in 2005 was the Robin Trower Live CD and DVD. Ruf includes Trower’s “Living Out Of Time” from that release.

There are also songs by Popovic, Parker, Lister, Trout, and an acoustic performance by Bob Brozman, a 2007 Blues Music Acoustic performer nominee. The DVD set concludes with Luther Allison’s “Bad Love” - set as a music video, not live performance - from 1994.

In July, Sue Foley, Deborah Coleman, and Canadian Roxanne Potvin, as the Blues Caravan, along with two other Ruf artists, Bernard Allison and Walter Trout, will be performing at the North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland, Maine.

This collection will serve to introduce new fans to the Ruf catalogue, but, with the enclosed DVD, it will give long-time fans of the label a chance to see performances of their favorite musicians.

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