There are any number of reasons I began my New Year's mission with Robert Palmer's Blues & Chaos. There was Blogcritics editor Donald Gibson's wonderful interview with Anthony DeCurtis, the man who compiled and edited the collection. There was Palmer's essential blues history book Deep Blues. There were the many albums I own that feature liner notes from Palmer. All of those factors entered in to my decision to plunk down the money and read Blues & Chaos. There is another reason equally important, and his name is Otis Rush.
It seems Palmer and I share a love for the playing and singing of the Chicago blues titan. The "Otis Rush Admiration Society" isn't an exclusive club nor is Rush obscure, but I find many more casual appreciators than devoted listeners. In one of my early encounters with Palmer's writing, Deep Blues, I felt I'd found a kindred spirit. When I saw Otis' name in the table of contents of Blues & Chaos, I knew it wasn't a matter of if I'd read it but when.
Sadly, the chapter in Blues & Chaos isn't as long and detailed as the writing is other places in the book nor did I learn anything new about Rush, his playing, his influences, or his life, but Palmer's passion for Rush's considerable talents is vivid and genuine and confirmed my adoration was well placed.
Four years ago, a "lost" performance by Rush and one of the finer bands he played with in the mid '70s was discovered and released by Delmark Records. Reading Palmer's chapter sent me scurrying for this album to once again experience both of Rush's blues voices: his vocals and his guitar. Palmer said of him in 1982, "when he is in peak form, he has a surer command of the blues language than probably any guitarist around today." Listening to the inspired performance of All Your Love I Miss Loving, Live at the Wise Fools Pub, Chicago, I realize it was as true then as it is today.