Saturday, July 07, 2007

Soul-Blues Saturday: Get on Down With Rufus Thomas!

Rufus Thomas - Miss Jane

Recently I wrote a post in response to a post at The Memphis Sound: Lost and Found about Rufus and Carla Thomas, choosing at that time to feature Carla Thomas. Today her father earns yet another feature here.

After Stax folded, Thomas stayed busy in the studio for the rest of the decade, getting a minor R&B hit with the surprisingly non-dance "If There Was No Music" for Artists of America in 1976 and recording the decent I Ain't Getting Older, I'm Getting Better for AVI as well as a 1978 Hi single, "Fried Chicken." Although his studio recordings became more scarce after an eponymous album for Gusto in 1980 (in which he covered his Stax hits and other R&B classics), he appeared on wax doing rap ("Rappin' Rufus" on Ichiban) and two blues albums that were well-received, That Woman Is Poison! (Alligator) and Blues Thang! (Sequel). In the early '90s Rufus cut some sides at Sun Studios that went unreleased (more on those later), and then had an Ecko release with Rufus Live, which featured Rufus' outstanding performance in Atlanta in connection with the 1996 Olympics.

Before Rufus' death in 2001 Thomas had ventured into the studio for Bobby Manuel's High Stacks concern and recorded the cheerful "Hey Rufus!" While there, some of the Sun material was released by the label as Swing Out With Rufus Thomas. A couple of years ago, the Segue label released the excellent CD Just Because I'm Leavin' ..., which included more of the Sun material. There's lots of great stuff on here, ranging from straight-ahead blues, a great version of "Today I Started Loving You Again" (although his version on Rufus Live is much better), and a duet with Carla on "God Bless America" to two pieces of fun soul-blues, "Old Dog, New Tricks" and today's selection. "Miss Jane" has a great Memphis stepping groove that really works, and Rufus wails away with the fun sound that made his Stax hits so great. It's a great soul-blues get down! We still love you, Rufus!

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