2019 - Ruf Recordsby Phillip Smith; July 12, 2019
To commemorate the 400th PhillyCheeze’s Rock & Blues Review, I want to shine some light on the special 25 Years Anniversary disc from Ruf Records. This is one hell of a collection. This edition contains both a 14 track CD, and a 12 video, 62-minute DVD . The CD features a ton of music from Ruf’s most recent releases, while the DVD delightfully spans their entire era, going back to the Luther Allison days.
After seeing Ruf’s Blues Caravan last year in 2018, I was happy to see the disc containing songs by Ally Venerable, Mike Zito, and Bernard Allison who all shared the stage at the 2nd annual Czech Village Blues festival, here in Cedar Rapids, Iowa last August. Ally rips it up on guitar and belts out the title track to her latest album, “Texas Honey”. Zito’s song is also the title track for his latest, “First Class Life”. I love the slide guitar on this one. The swampy, funky goodness of Bernard’s “Backdoor Man” is so enjoyable. Vanja Sky, who played on the European legs of the caravan, gives us the smokin’ blues in “Hard Working Woman”.
Ruf also includes the sultry “Chills and Fever” from the wonderful Samantha Fish, and Ina Forsman’s exquisitely danceable ’ “Get Mine”. For the classic blues-head, there is “Low Down“ from The B.B. King Blues Band, and hardcore soul music fans will surely dig “Deep in my Soul” from Big Daddy Wilson. Also nice to hear, is my favorite Savoy Brown song from the past few years, “Why Did You Hoodoo Me”. It definitely cuts to the bone.
The DVD begins with a spectacular performance of Denmark’s Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado fabulously performing “If You Wanna Leave”. It’s so cool to see Mike Zito, Devon Allman and Cyril Neville jam together on “Moonlight Over the Mississippi”. Oli Brown’s driving blues-rock anthem “Here I Am” is captivating. From the 2019 Blues Caravan, there’s a terrific video of Katarina Pejak, Ina Forsman and Ally Venable covering the classic Stevie Ray Vaughan song “If the House is Rocking”, and they sound great. For a wonderful song to close with, Luther Allison soulfully sings “Living in The House of Blues”.
Ruf Records 25 Years Anniversary should be in the collection of every blues fan. It is a powerhouse of a retrospective.