Rusty Ends Blues Band
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © 2021
As Michael Frank, the disc’s Executive Producer and CEO of Earwig Music, tells us in its liner notes, he and Rusty Ends met on a phone call that had absolutely nothing to do with the recording. Fast forward through a few more conversations and an in depth interview, Michael – who was impressed with Rusty on so many levels – decided he’d like to reissue his 1996 “Rusty Ends Blues Band”. For that, being someone who had never heard of Rusty or any of the other musicians on the recording, I’d like to say “Thank you, Michael”. This surely is one hell of a recording.
The Rusty Ends Blues Band consists of Rusty Ends on vocals and guitar; special guest Robbie Bartlett on lead and background vocals; Dave Zirnheld on bass and background vocals; Gene Wickliffe and Danny Kelly on drums; Rod Wurtele on electric piano and Hammond B3 organ; Jim Rosen on harmonica; Gary Hicks on trumpet; Kelly Bechtloff on saxophone; and Barry Shaw on percussion. “Rusty Ends Blues Band” the CD, consists of seventeen songs all penned by Rusty and was originally released on Rollin’ & Tumblin’ Records in 1996.
The disc opens with “What Next?” and right off the bat – at just over two minutes long – this smoker validates Michael’s impressions of Rusty’s knowledge of, commitment to, and natural ability for playing the blues. Besides his gritty vocals and rhythm guitar technique, the track features a thunderous rhythm coming from the hands of Dave and Gene on the bass and drums, and impressive powerful harp leads by Jim. Great intro to the band.
“A Man Can’t Understand A Women” is the shortest song of the lot, and that could be for one of three reasons: The men who are listening already know what he’s talking about; The women who are listening wouldn’t make it too far into the song anyway: or his wife heard the first few verses and smacked him upside his head. Gotcha wondering, huh? Musically, it’s got a bit of a jazzy rhythm with some killer harp leads.
It’s probably good that “Sinner’s Strut” is an instrumental because after hearing some of the lyrics on a few other tracks, I’d be wondering about what this crazy guy might say on this one. Actually, that’s an exaggeration, but Rusty can indeed be a handful. With some of Barry’s extra added percussion – and this time with Danny pounding the skins – it’s a rhythm forward smoker with Rusty showcasing a few fancy guitar styles.
Everyone knows the importance of self love and on “High Powered Loving Man”, using lines like: “You know how to move, you know how to dress, a woman like you deserves the best. So c’mon baby give yourself a treat, I’ll turn up your thermostat and I’ll supply the heat”; “I’m more man than you’ve ever seen, if men were cars I’d be a limousine”; and other equally egotistical gems; Rusty gives new meaning to the term. Musically, there’s lots of ‘high powered’ things going on as well: As is always the case, the rhythm section is going full throttle; Rod is rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’ on some crazy Jerry Lee like wailing on the piano; and the ‘loving man’ himself is going nuts on some wild Chuck Berry like guitar runs. Phew!
“Something Wrong Going On” and whatever it is, it’s making for a killer blues song. With the rhythm section, boosted by the beat of the B3, in that perfect slow blues groove behind him, this one’s all Rusty. Along with belting the hell out of the blues with one of his best vocal presentations, his scorching, slow blues guitar leads have me in my blues heaven. Being the kind of stuff I can’t get enough of, this three-minute plus, track got many replays.
“Broken Dreams For Sale” is one of two tracks that feature the fabulous lead vocals of Robbie Bartlett, and it’s pretty easy to see why Rusty chose her to do this one. Her soft, sultry, jazzy style of singing the blues is a perfect fit for this laid back melancholic ballad. Also perfect for the track was the calming, yet prominent rhythm being laid down by Dave and Gene and the easygoing, melodic harp leads by Jim. This impressive performance of Robbie’s has me now hoping Michael will consider reissuing her twenty year old CD.
“The One Wish” I’d make if I could, would be that all the releases I listen to have one or more tracks like this. Just like slow scorching blues songs and steamy ballads sung by female vocalists ring my blues bell, so do these old school, fifties style blues songs. There’s just something about them that stops me in my tracks and puts me into a trance. That said, this being Rusty’s one wish and not mine, I’ve got to tell you that it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.
Other tracks on “Rusty Ends Blues Band”, a re-release that could very well land on the “Best Historical” or “Best Reissue” categories of the different awards ceremonies include: “Secrets In The Street”; “Blue Shadows”; “I Wanna Know”; “Don’t Call It Love”; “Heart Stealer”; “Sloppy Joe Blues”; “I’m Searching”; “Whips And Chains”; “One Step Forward”; “High Beams” .
“The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy”
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award Recipient