These two collections of early sides by the great guitarists Otis Rush and “Magic” Sam Maghett are pure fire-and-brimstone blues. They showcase the artists when they were young and had everything to prove.
The Otis Rush CD is truly stellar. Included are 24 tracks packed onto one disc, which includes seven alternate takes. These have been collected and released before on the Paula/Jewel label, but those releases were of poor, muddy sound quality. The sound quality on this new collection is vastly superior.
Many of Rush’s classic songs are here in there earliest forms: “Double Trouble,” “All Your Love [I Miss Loving],” and more. Rush’s guitarwork is blistering, overdriving the recording equipment at times. His energy also bursts from the tracks with his gospel-tinged vocals howling above the band. These are the true blues.
The Magic Sam CD includes 25 tracks, five of which are alternates and two previously unissued. While these are also hot cuts, they sound more like sketches of songs in progress, leading up to his masterpiece LP West Side Soul.
If you’re a fan of either, you need these CDs. They’re packed with tracks, include fine liner notes, and are classic blues from the hot old days.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s May ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.