Rusty Ends Blues Band | Album Review

Rusty Ends Blues Band

Earwig Music – 2021

17 tracks; 51.41 minutes

Rusty Ends is a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter based in Kentucky. He is a veteran performer, having made a first record as far back as 1969. Interestingly, this disc has been out before, released in 1996 on Rollin’ & Tumblin’ records, a label that disappeared soon afterwards, as did this album as a consequence. 25 years later Earwig has re-released it, following a chance meeting between Rusty and Earwig boss Michael Frank who liked Rusty’s knowledge and enthusiasm. Rusty grew up listening to blues, rock and roll and country and has always seen these as intermingled: “People going to the honky tonks and the juke joints, it’s the same kind of people. It’s the same kind of experiences. They want to forget their troubles, have a good time”.

The band here is Rusty on guitar and vocals, Dave Zirnheld on bass and B/V’s, Gene Wickliffe on drums and Rod Wurtele on keys; Danny Kelly takes over the drum seat on four cuts, Jim Rosen plays harmonica on five and Gary Hicks (trumpet) and Kelly Bechtloff (sax) play on three. Robbie Bartlett guests on lead vocals on two tracks and adds B/V’s to two more. Rusty wrote all the material.

“What Next?” is a bright shuffle with Jim’s harp to the fore as Rusty wonders what fate will throw at him next: “My baby said she’d love me for evermore, I didn’t know that ‘forever’ meant 1994”. Soulful guitar licks and warm Hammond appear on “Secrets In The Street” and “Blue Shadows” is a slow blues with Robbie’s deep alto and some very nice guitar fills that suit the mood of the song well. Harp features in contrasting styles on the short, bouncy shuffle “I Wanna Know” and “A Man Can’t Understand A Woman” which has a jazzy feel. A rockabilly instrumental “Sinner’s Strut” precedes the first of the tracks with the horns, Rusty’s boast that he is a “High Powered Loving Man” though it’s the rocking piano work that stands out on this one. Rusty’s relaxed guitar work introduces “Something Going Wrong”, a moody blues tune that explores the familiar territory of failing relationships.

“Don’t Call It Love” has a spoken intro and the track rather outstays its welcome at almost twice the length of all other tracks but the return of the horns adds punch to “Heart Stealer” to get things back on track. Robbie’s second lead vocal is on “Broken Dreams For Sale”, aided by some nice harp work over a laid-back, late night tune. “Sloppy Joe Blues” has a soulful feel but it’s an odd title for a song which includes neither the name Joe nor mention of a sandwich in the lyrics!

A chugging rhythm with piano and harp fills is at the center of “I’m Searching” before the horns make their final appearance on “Whips And Chains” which manages to combine smooth, soulful music with lyrics about a girl who “is into pain”! Not often you find bondage featured in the blues! We stay with the soulful style on “One Step Forward” on which Rusty plays some lovely guitar lines, “High Beams” has a rumba rhythm and lyrics that manage to link car headlights with the attributes of a young lady and “The One Wish” is a stately slow song about love: “true love is like fine wine, it keeps getting better, better with time”.

Whilst there is nothing particularly ground-breaking about this album it is a very pleasant listen.

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