Friday, 31 July 2015

"Tom Rush/Take A Little Walk With Me" by TOM RUSH (2015 Beat Goes On 2CD Reissue - Andrew Thompson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Get Me My Travelling Shoes..."

When Tom Rush signed to Jack Holzman’s Folk-Rock label Elektra Records in 1965 to record his eponymous label debut (Disc 1) – New Hampshire’s finest vocalist and song-interpreter was already a three-album veteran. His privately pressed live LP “At The Unicorn” on Night Light Records cropped up in the summer of 1962 (recorded at The Unicorn Club in Boston, there was reputedly only 600 copies made) followed by “Blues Songs And Ballads” in 1963 and “Got A Mind To Ramble” in 1965 (both on Prestige, “Ramble” recorded 1963). And that’s where this gorgeous CD comes in...

UK released July 2015 – Beat Goes On BGOCD 1192 (Barcode 5017261211927) contains the first two of three albums TOM RUSH made for Elektra Records in the Sixties – “Tom Rush” from 1965 and “Take A Little Walk With Me” in 1966 (I’ve reviewed the third LP 1968’s “The Circle Game” separately). It breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (45:04 minutes):
1. Long John
2. If Your Man Gets Busted
3. Do-Re-Mi
4. Milk Cow Blues
5. The Cuckoo
6. Black Mountain Blues
7. Poor Man [Side 2]
8. Solid Gone
9. When She Wants Good Lovin’
10. I’d Like To Know
11. Jelly Roll Baker
12. Windy Bill
13. Panama Limited
Tracks 1 to 13 are his 3rd album “Tom Rush” – released 1965 in the USA on Elektra Records EKL 288 (Mono) and EKS 7288 (Stereo). The Stereo mix is used. Produced by Paul A. Rothchild.

Disc 2 (35:59 minutes):
1. You Can’t Tell A Book By The Cover
2. Who Do You Love
3. Love’s Made A Fool Of You
4. Too Much Monkey Business
5. Money Honey
6. On The Road Again
7. Joshua Gone Barbados [Side 2]
8. Statesboro Blues
9. Turn Your Money Green
10. Sugar Babe
11. Galveston Flood
Tracks 1 to 11 are his 4th album “Take A Little Walk With Me” – released June 1966 in the USA on Elektra Records EKL 308 (mono) and EKS 7308 (Stereo). The Stereo Mix is used. Produced by Mark Abrahamson.

There’s an outer card slipcase that lends the whole CD reissue a classy feel and a 16-page inlay with very detailed JOHN O’REGAN liner notes. The track-by-track breakdowns from the original American LP back cover liner notes is reproduced, there are those three black and white publicity photos of him in his jacket having a smoke by the railroad tracks and indepth discussion of his song choices and his ability to pick a tune and a songwriter. ANDREW THOMPSON has done new 2015 remasters at Sound Performance in London and he has clearly used the Rhino 2CD reissues of 2001 (Dan Hersch and Bill Inglot were the remaster engineers) – the audio on this beauty is gorgeous. Primarily well-recorded Folk – the Acoustic guitar, his deep tonal voice and the inclusion of John Sebastian’s Harmonica (from The Lovin’ Spoonful) on 6 of the 13 tracks – gives the music a huge feel and warmth.

The “Tom Rush” LP mixes pure Americana Folk with some Dixie, Hillbilly and Acoustic Blues – it’s a properly great mid-Sixties Folk-Rock album. As already mentioned John Sebastian features on six tunes with his distinctive Harmonica warbling – all covers - the songs are “Long John” (Traditional), “Milk Cow Blues” (Kokomo Arnold song), “Black Mountain Blues” (Bessie Smith cover), “Solid Gone” (Traditional), “When She Wants Good Lovin’” (Lieber/Stoller song done by The Coasters) and “Jelly Roll Baker” (Jelly Roll Morton cover). Felix Pappalardi of Mountain and Joe Walsh’s Barnstorm fame plays Guitarron on the Traditional “Solid Gone”, Woody Guthrie’s “Do-Re-Mi” and the Traditional “Windy Bill”. His other players included Bill Lee on Bass and Daddy Bones on Second Guitar – Rush plays Acoustic Guitar and of course takes Lead Vocal on all songs. The last song “Panama Limited” is him and his acoustic guitar only doing an 8 ½ minute slide mash-up of Bukka White Blues – a talking song about a freight train that goes so fast even the hobos don’t mess with it. It ends the album on a storytelling high (his guitar playing is clearly excellent too and this remaster really sells that).

If the largely Folky “Tom Rush” LP is excellent – in my mind the Folk Rock “Take A Little Walk With Me” album where Rush finally goes ‘electric’ (Side 1) like Dylan did – is fantastic stuff and again features an array of great covers and one original “On The Road Again”. The first thing that hits you about it is the improvement in Production – Mark Abrahamson channelling Al Kooper and Bruce Langhorne’s Electric Guitars with skill. Harvey Brooks supplies the Bass, Bobby Gregg plays Drums, and Roosevelt Gook tinkles the Piano with Rush once again on Vocals and Acoustic Guitar. It opens with Willie Dixon’s “You Can’t Tell A Book By The Cover” (a hit for Bo Diddley) which is good but things goes proper Rocking with his deep-voiced version of Diddley’s creepily brilliant “Who Do You Love”. This is not Folk – nor Blues – it could even be The Doors on their self-titled debut (wicked stuff). The stereo separation on Buddy Holly’s “Love’s Made A Fool Of You” is fantastic – a beautifully handled transfer. Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business” allows the album to boogie a little – a fun choice – and again shocking electric guitars after all that Folk Acoustic on “Tom Rush”. Jess Stone’s “Money Honey” (a Drifters hit on Atlantic Records) is great fun but his own “On The Road Again” impresses much more and feels like a great driving Fred Neil song (a writer Rush admired).

Side 2 (the Folky Side) opens with Von Schmidt’s “Joshua Gone Barbados” which turned up on the “Forever Changing: The Golden Age Of Elektra Records...” 2006 Box Set as a representation of Tom Rush’s soft magic. And it’s easy to hear why it was singled out - a lovely lilting ballad that stays in your mind. Acoustic Blues shows up in Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues” and again the remaster is just amazing. My fave track on the whole LP is Eric Von Schmidt’s “Turn Your Money Green” which I’ve included on many 60ts CD compilations “...I’ve been down so looks like up to me...”  It ends on the amazing “Galveston Flood” where Blues, Folk and Americana all mash into one powerhouse song.

Both of these albums are forgotten in the grand scheme of things and hard to find outside of the USA on original vinyl – and neither should be. A clever and smart reissue by Britain’s Beat Goes On – more baby please...

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