Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush
He grew up around Elmore James, played the blues in honky-tonks as a teen, and once his family moved to Chicago in the early ’50s he became friends with Muddy Waters and started working for Jimmy Reed. Bobby Rush has been a bluesman on a par with Bobby Bland and Jimmy Witherspoon all his life, and this lavish boxset is a testament to both his incredible voice and musical spirit, as well as documenting his dogged belief in his talent, as evidenced on Chicken Heads four cds.
Starting off with his debut single from 1965, “Someday”, a slow blues ala Otis Rush (and sounding a lot like the guitar work Eric Clapton would use in Cream, a few years down the road), this set is a godsend for blues and R+B fans. Rush has an innate musical sense that rarely steers him wrong, and even during the disco days (as chronicled on disc three with numbers such as “Buttermilk Bottom” and “Booga Bear”), he never sounds at the mercy of the tune, never formulaic, elevating what in lesser hands would be disposable dance music into something grander, seasoned with Rush’s slightly droll sense of humor as on “Tough Titty” or “Wet Match”.
That aside, when Bobby Rush lays into a blues, watch out. From “Talk to Your Daughter”, “Nine Below Zero” or his latest, “Another Murder In New Orleans” (a duet with Dr. John), Rush is righteous, and is one of our last remaining links to the great electric blues heyday of the Chicago scene from the 1950s. Featuring rare photos, informative essays and a wealth of material from numerous labels, Chicken Heads is a great overview of one of our most able blues vocalists, the legendary Bobby Rush.