Friday, February 28, 2014

Bobby Rush With Blinddog Smokin’: “Decisions” (2014) CD/DVD Review

Bobby Rush pairs up with the band Blinddog Smokin’ for his new release, Decisions. This album is a serious amount of fun, with lots of power and great bluesy vibes, as well as some absolutely wonderful backing vocals. There is a lot of playfulness on this album too, particularly on tracks like “Funky Old Man” and “Skinny Little Women” (the latter a debate on the benefits of fat women versus skinny women, with Blinddog Smokin's Carl Gustafson singing lines like, “A big fat lady take up way too much of the bed/With my little skinny women, room for two instead”).

Perhaps the major highlight, however, is the presence of Dr. John on vocals and piano on the album’s opening track, “Another Murder In New Orleans.” Obviously Bobby Rush draws a lot of inspiration from the city of New Orleans. His previous album was titled Down In Louisiana, and featured a lot of great New Orleans vibes. Decisions is a two-disc set, the second disc being a DVD focused on “Another Murder In New Orleans.”

“Another Murder In New Orleans”

“Another Murder In New Orleans” starts with a wonderful bit of tinkering on the keys, just to get us ready, get us excited. Then the song comes on as a strong dose of blues. The opening lines are, “The city is old, the trouble is new/People are happy, but the feeling’s so blue.” The vocals on this track are something else. First, check out Bobby dipping low on “New Orleans.” And then there are some amazing backing vocals (“I walk out into the night, though it isn’t my fight”). To top it off, there is the presence of Dr. John, singing the second verse. I’ve long been a fan of Dr. John’s music. His voice is unmistakable, and he is of course forever linked with New Orleans, being a vital part of that city’s vibe. And so it’s perfect that he appears on this track. Though he and Bobby Rush have known each other for decades, this is the first time they recorded together. I love the work on piano during an instrumental section.


“Decisions,” the CD’s title track, opens with the line, “Making a decision sometimes sure can be hard.” So true. “And making a decision when you feeling good is different when your body is in pain/Oh Lordy, why don’t you help us make the right decisions.” This is a song full of compassion and concern, and contains an important argument. Bobby Rush wrote this one. At a certain point, it does start to feel a bit repetitive, and loses some of its power as a result, but the nice work on harmonica makes up for it.

“Bobby Rush’s Bus”

I’ve always found it odd when musicians put their own names in their songs, sometimes even singing about themselves in the third person. And lines like “When we hit your town you know it’s us/We’ll be on your street in Bobby Rush’s bus” remind me of the “(Theme From) The Monkees” (“You never know where’ll be found/So you better get ready/We may be coming to your town”). Yet “Bobby Rush’s Bus” has a funky charm. I dig the horns and harmonica. The song has some good-natured bragging: “If this bus could its tell stories, everyone would blush.” And then it has an announcer voice introducing the musicians before they solo, with the sound of an audience cheering in the background. 

Later in the album we get “Dr. Rush,” in which Bobby Rush is portrayed as a radio personality offering advice. This one is a weird sort of rap/rock tune, and is my least favorite on this album (though there are still some humorous moments, like “Get some gravy in the woman if you have to spoon-feed her”).

"If That's The Way You Like It I Like It"

“If That’s The Way You Like It I Like It” is a very cool, kind of sexy tune about a man eager to join a woman in her special activities, with lines like “I heard you last night walkin’ down the hall/I heard you tell him he can get it all/If that’s what you want to do/Let me do it too/If that’s the way you like it, I like it.” 

“Funky Old Man”

Things get really fun with “Funky Old Man.” As its title promises, this song has a funky vibe, with some cool work on guitars, horns, and those great backing vocals. This song is totally playful, with some silly lines toward the end: “I’m a funky old man, ain’t got no money/I got rheumatism and I walk kind of funny/I had a hip replacement and an angioplasty/I like young women, I’m kind of nasty/Get up in the morning about the break of dawn/Take me an hour and half to get my shoes on.” Bobby Rush is in his seventies, but he certainly doesn’t seem old, his age doesn’t seem to matter. There is something of the immortal about him, about his energy.

“Love Of A Woman” has a more standard blues feel, with typical blues lyrics about doing things for a woman, including buying her a diamond ring, cars, house and everything, yet somehow feels new. That just goes to show you the great ability and force of Bobby Rush. He wrote this one, and sings, “A man will do anything, anything you want him to do/When he loves a woman like I love you.”

“Too Much Weekend”

“Too Much Weekend” is a really cool blues song that begins as a wonderful acoustic gem, and then kicks in. I like the line, “You know I’m not drunk, but I sure been drinking.”

There is an eleventh track that is not listed, “Sittin’ Here Waitin’.” This tune has a really good vibe. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “I’m sitting here waiting on my woman to come back/She been gone so long things just ain’t right.”


The second disc is a DVD that includes the music video for “Another Murder In New Orleans.” This video features footage of New Orleans as well as the band, and some surprising animated footage of the band.

The DVD also includes short interviews with Dr. John and Bobby Rush, where they talk about that song. Bobby Rush also plays harmonica and sings for a bit.

There is also a photo gallery of behind-the-scenes photos from the music video shoot. The photo gallery plays without you having to hit the arrow button, and is approximately nine and a half minutes. “Another Murder In New Orleans” plays along with the photos (the song plays twice due to the length of this feature).

CD Track List
  1. Another Murder In New Orleans
  2. Decisions
  3. Bobby Rush’s Bus
  4. If That’s The Way You Like It I Like It
  5. Funky Old Man
  6. Love Of A Woman
  7. Stand Back
  8. Skinny Little Women
  9. Dr. Rush
  10. Too Much Weekend
  11. Sittin’ Here Waitin’
Decisions is scheduled to be released on April 15, 2014 on Silver Talon Records.

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