Slow Burning Blues
The epitome of cool and the master of understatement this smooth, smouldering, slow burning live blues performance from 1966 proves exactly why less is always more. Otis Rush originally recorded this Willie Dixon classic in 1956 to launch Cobra Records.
A tight band and a low-slung, laid back jazz feel provide the perfect backing to his strong tenor vocal and tastefully restrained guitar playing. Otis Rush is in no rush, because although appearing almost effortless this guitar playing has so much depth. Beginning with a lead refrain (in the absence of a brass section), he introduces characteristically long bends, strong vibrato and an unusual, fast continuous ‘spiccato’ style guitar lead. There isn’t a touch of distortion in sight.
Otis Rush has clearly influenced guitarists like Eric Clapton and Michael Bloomfield. 30 years later Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood would use a similar technique, drenched in reverb, on the song “Airbag” for the 1996 album OK Computer.
Otis Rush is left handed and plays a left handed guitar strung upside down / in reverse. Fred Below, the master of the blues backbeat is playing the drums. It’s a masterful display of blues in it’s most articulate and sophisticated form.