Word arrived today of the demise of Otis Rush, one of the more underrated bluesmen. Though less than a household name, he was a guitarist and singer of raw, simmering power. Don’t take my word for it; here’s no less an authority than Lester Bangs, in Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung:
His singing is as fierce as any of the other Big Boys in the neighborhood, but it’s that guitar work you’ll keep coming back for. It’s beyond blues, beyond rock, certainly into atonal propositions too lewd for a family publication such as this. It sounds like giant bloody icebergs shuddering up to crunch together in the deepest, longest night of typically endless midwestern winter, and if you don’t think there’s icebergs in the Midwest you’ve never been here. This album is a masterpiece. It has nothing to do with anything but pain and hate and exorcism and impossibility, and if I were you I’d buy it.
I honestly had no idea that Otis was still alive, so it would disingenuous of me to feign great sorrow at his passing. But he was the man in his day. Check out, for instance, this oddly jaunty little number called “Violent Love” — blues guitar and cognitive dissonance at their finest.