R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

VOICES Notes and news on R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax releases

Singer/Songwriter Pioneer

15 DEC 12 DAVID SHANNON

I first heard Tom Rush a few years back when my brother picked up a used vinyl copy of one of his early recordings and we headed back to his house to give it a listen. The songs on the album struck me for their honest delivery. Years later and now a true fan, I jumped at the chance to review Blues, Songs And Ballads, a 1963 Fantasy compilation of two Rush recordings, Got A Mind To Ramble and Blues, Songs And Ballads.

Later known as one of the original singer/songwriters (before the term became synonymous with an entire genus of guys playing guitar and singing confessional, introspective songs), on this release Rush covers a selection of traditional tunes, from blues-inspired lamentations and romantic folk ballads to country-tinged chronicles of the everyman. The 23 songs on Blues, Songs And Ballads cover the gamut of these styles and more, Tom’s casual, warm singing voice drifting over his accomplished and tasteful guitar picking.

Rush eventually turned to writing his own compositions, and by the ‘70s he added a 5-man band and toured the country playing the more electrified folk-rock sound that came into vogue. But for those who want to hear an unaccompanied pioneer of a genre now accorded its own category in record stores everywhere, this compilation will not disappoint.