Legendary bluesman Bobby Rush is back with a new album, Sitting on Top of the Blues, which is released today on CD and LP through Rush’s own Deep Rush label. At 86 years old, the Louisiana-born guitar slinger and singer has traveled from the Chitlin’ circuit to the world’s stages since 1951. He’s released music on indie labels across the nation, recorded for Gamble & Huff, and has performed alongside a who’s-who of funk, soul, and blues luminaries. You’ve probably heard some of his classics on Omnivore’s four-CD box set Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush. Over the decades, Bobby Rush has won twelve Blues Music Awards, a Grammy for the 2017 album Porcupine Meat, and has been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.
He’s one of the last surviving bluesmen of his generation, and though some might decide to call it a day and rest on their laurels, Bobby Rush continues to move forward. When asked about the title of his new album, Rush had this to say: “I’m sitting on top of the blues. I’m a bluesman who’s sitting on the top of my game, proud of what I do and proud of who I am and thankful for people accepting me for what I am and who I am. I’m happy about what I’m doing and still enthused about what I’m doing. And I think we’ve got some good songs.”
And the good songs are plenty on Sitting on Top of the Blues. There’s the aptly titled “Good Stuff,” a cooking shuffle praising all the mystical qualities of a particularly attractive woman, and there’s the rollicking “Hey Hey, Bobby Rush” in which Rush proudly proclaims his purpose on Earth: “I’m a bluesman, it’s all I know!” Whether on those rockers, or on the country-tinged “Sweet Lizzy,” Rush, his co-producer Vasti Jackson, and the rest of the band deliver the goods with fiery guitar riffs, sly and sensual vocal stylings, squawking harmonica solos, and a heavy dose of down-home charm. Just take a listen to the barnstormer “Bobby Rush Shuffle,” an instrumental that spotlights Rush’s emotive harmonica.
“Recipe for Love” is another highlight – just Rush, his acoustic guitar (with backing by Vasti Jackson), and his undiminished skill for double entendre-filled storytelling. He’s more direct in his intentions with the sultry, electric piano-laced burner “Slow Motion.” Elsewhere, Rush delivers the catchy and toe-tapping “Shake ‘Til You Get Enough” – which seems tailor-made for the dancefloor of a go-go concert – and even a heavy new take on his 1972 single “Bow-Legged Woman” that shows Rush in fine form as he blows on the harp, delivers guitar riffs, and growls out the classic tune.
The years have been uncharacteristically kind to Bobby Rush, whose instrumental talents and inimitable vocal style remain unabated and show no signs of letting up. Even well into his eighties, he’s still touring the world and delivering timeless, authentic music at the crossroads of blues, soul, and funk. Exhibit A? Sitting On Top of the Blues.
Bobby Rush, Sitting On Top of the Blues (Deep Rush, 2019)
CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada
- Hey Hey Bobby Rush
- Good Stuff
- Get Out of Here (Dog Named Bo)
- You Got the Goods on You
- Sweet Lizzy
- Bobby Rush Shuffle
- Recipe for Love
- Pooky Poo
- Slow Motion
- Shake Til’ You Get Enough
- Bowlegged Woman