I’m not sure if all of the readers of our newsletter are old enough to remember Professor Peabody and his sidekick Sherman from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. They used to travel back in time using their Wayback Machine, having one misadventure after the next. Well, old Bob Koester has done some equally impressive magic over at Delmark Records; he has produced CD-versions of the Wayback Machine in the CD release of Otis Rush “All Your Love I Miss Loving- Live at the Wise Fools Pub Chicago.” When the first guitar chords from this CD hit your ears, you will be brought back to a time when you were younger, thinner, had more and darker hair, and also when electric Chicago Blues were at their pinnacle in January of 1976.
Otis and his backup performers were obviously comfortable together and put on a superb show. Backing up Otis were our very own Bob Levis on rhythm guitar, Alberto Gianquinto on electric piano, Bob Stroger on bass and Jess Green on drums. Chris “Barcelona Red” Mason and Rawl Hardman lend a hand on alto and tenor sax on tracks 8 through 12. The tapes from the show at the Wise Fools Pub have just a tad of noise on them, but they do not detract from the ambience of the performances. This CD is an important bit of history that has been recovered and must be a part of anyone’s collection of blues.
The recording was the result of cooperation between the then-new, part-time radio station WXRT and their 7-Up Uncola “Unconcerts,” Ken Rasek (a collector of music who pioneered live recording techniques), and the Wise Fools Pub. Rush is relaxed, smooth and comfortable; he gives a performance far greater than we have heard on most of his studio recordings. His guitar slams into your consciousness with the opening bars of “Please Love Me.” You will immediately get drawn into a toe-tapping, head nodding session of 12 superb tracks that make you yearn for being back in the day. “You’re Breaking My Heart” slows the pace down on the next track; the guitar wails a mournful opening tune that tears your soul out and stomps it dead. This is guttural and visceral blues. A novice to the genre would be converted lock, stock and barrel to the blues by merely listening to this track.
Otis slips and slides through the title track with his trademark vocals and guitar next- this is truly phenomenal. Blues standards like “Mean Old World,” High Society,” “It Takes Time,” “Gamblers Blues” and “Sweet Little Angel” never got pressed into vinyl, recorded on tape or digitized better than on this CD. 30 years have passed since this show happened, but one is transformed back to that era just by listening to this CD. 12 outstanding tracks comprise this album; it is the Holy Grail of Otis Rush CDs. Get it, listen to it, and cherish it. It doesn’t get any better than this.