Bobby Rush

Bobby Rush

Self-produced, Deep Rush Records

By Georgetown Fats
November 2007

Booty shaking, costume changes and dancing girls are as synonymous with Bobby Rush as his showmanship tremendous musical skills. Rush’s career has spanned more than 50 years, during which he has won numerous awards and enthralled audiences the world over.

With a track record like Rush’s - with few goals left to meet - artists often produce new material that becomes formulaic to their back catalog. Reinvention is hardly the norm. Having successfully launched Deep Rush Visuals, Rush’s own multimedia company, he now can add solo artist to his array of talents in his career portfolio.

Stating Bobby Rush created the soul/rhythm & blues sound is debatable, stating Bobby Rush is a master of the soul/rhythm & blues - as well as a master showman - is not debatable. This man oozes talent and gravitas, able to captivate an audience even when the audience is filled with his contemporaries. This is what makes the concept of the Raw CD so intriguing. Rush has removed the dancing girls, the costume changes and the booty shaking from the musical equation. All you will find on this disc is Bobby Rush the solo musician, alone with his acoustic guitar and harmonica, with a few guest appearances by former band mate Shawn Kellerman on Dobro.

Though this disc emphasizes Rush’s down home sensibilities, a more apt title for the record would be “Stripped Down.” You can take the costume changes and shtick from Rush, but Bobby still does not have “raw” within him.

Inappropriate title aside, Rush emphasizing a stripped down country feel on Raw should provide tremendous crossover appeal delivering him mainstream adult contemporary radio airplay. There are requisite covers of “Good Morning School Girl,” “Nine Below Zero,” and “Howling Wolf,” which will appeal to the adult contemporary crowd. These cover tracks show Rush’s smooth voice and polished musicianship, but are pre-requisite cover song choices for someone who has forgotten more about the blues than most of us will ever know. Rush’s original contributions to this record are the true gems.

The melody to “Glad to Get You Back” has a familiar “Can’t be Satisfied” feel to it, but offers a unique take on awaiting the arrival of the love of his life. Excitement due to the pending arrival of a loved one is a theme which most listeners will make the connection to.

Another one of Rush’s original tracks “I Have Three Problems” is the highlight of this ambitious disc. The song is humorous - detailing the interactions and problems Rush has between juggling his girlfriend, his woman, and his wife. Serial monogamists may not relate to Rush’s problems with his women, but the effects of jealousy are easily identifiable, and his songwriting adds to his credibility and humor. Few artists would be able to pull this track off.

Ideally Raw is a disc blues fan should give to a non-blues fan as an introduction to blues music. A Bobby Rush fan will find Raw a great addition to their collection, while the non-initiated should appreciate the crossover appeal. With luck, the success of this highly marketable crossover record should provide exposure to the booty shakin’ uninitiated.

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