Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Tuesday Is (Country With) Soul Blues Day!

Rufus Thomas - Today I Started Loving You Again (live)

Today's "Tuesday Is Blues Day" feature is from Rufus Thomas' 1998 Ecko CD Rufus Live!, which was recorded in Atlanta in 1996. Performing as part of a Memphis soul package for the Summer Olympics, Rufus' set finds the World's Oldest Teenager mastering the crowd with the same ease he managed the infamous Wattstax audience in 1972. The CD is somewhat difficult to find these days, but it's worth purchasing, as Thomas lays down a little soul and blues, walks the dog and does the funky chicken as only he could.

As fun as the uptempo things are on the CD, however, Rufus' 18 minutes-plus take on the country classic "Today I Started Loving You Today" is nothing short of a tour de force. After acknowledging Nashville as the home of country music and name-checking a few country singers (including, interestingly, Jerry Lee Lewis, who, although indeed a hit country act from the late '60s onward, would seem to be linked more to Memphis and rock'n'roll), Thomas distinguishes himself from that crew, declaring that they sing country "country" but he sings country with soul (dig the neat change in the piano background in the introduction at that point) and then gets to work on the meat of the song. After a couple of verses, however, Rufus engages in a lengthy monologue that ranges from what a man would like from his woman when he comes home from work to the power of love to clowning with some female audience members, switching from being serious to being silly but keeping the soul quotient very high and showing how the old soul masters could spin a captivating web around an audience and then work their magic in monologues. (Listen to this and then listen to similar portions of Solomon Burke's Soul Alive album and you'll get my point.)

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