Otis Rush

Part One

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This 50-minute show is a short but sweet snapshot of the 65-year-old Otis Rush in concert. Recorded in a San Francisco sound studio decked out to look like a club, the controlled environment helps the audio -- remixed into crisp 5.1 Surround Sound -- jump out and envelop the listener, which further enhances the live experience. With his four-piece Chicago band in tow, augmented by the punchy Huey Lewis & the News horns, this is a good representation of an average Rush show. He's a little tentative at times, but his leads are sturdy, if not quite as mesmerizing as you would have liked or expected. Although the band plays well, electricity and tension are in short supply and some of the six songs are disappointing choices. "I Can't Quit You Baby" and "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)" are here, yet such Rush classics as "Double Trouble" and "Three Times a Fool" -- both of which he talks about extensively in the accompanying interview -- are MIA. Certainly we could have done without another extended cover of "I Got My Mojo Working" and "It's My Own Fault," especially since these are not tunes typically associated with Rush. The band, augmented on "Mojo" by guitarist Bobby Murray, is well rehearsed and tight. Far from a magnetic stage presence, Rush is nonetheless in fine form as he cradles his left-handed, cherry-red guitar. Unfortunately, the screen goes to black between the tracks, which detracts from the momentum and causes the overall performance to lose steam. DVD extras feature short interview snippets that show the guitarist to be a relaxed but bland conversationalist who hopefully has more interesting things to say than what is proffered here. Also included is audio-only commentary describing snapshots of Rush taken with such luminaries and devotees as Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Buddy Guy, Gary Moore, Willie Dixon, and Bill Wyman. But Rush doesn't have much to contribute about most of them, other than they are good musicians and nice guys. Shy and often withdrawn both on stage and off, this is still a professionally recorded and enlightening video portrait of one of Chicago's most legendary guitarists.