Bobby Rush with Blinddog Smokin': Decisions (take 2)

A good album, but not a great one.

Bobby Rush with Blinddog Smokin'


Label: Silver Talon
US release date: 2014-04-15
UK release date: 2014-04-15
Label website

New Orleans legend Bobby Rush is a pretty great bluesman, a vocalist with a gritty, expressive voice who can belt it out when he needs to or bring things way way down, soft and quiet and slow. His 2013 album Down in Louisiana was a fine piece of work, and it figures that follow-up album Decisions would be strong as well, especially given its range of guest stars include none other than Dr. John himself. Alas, Decisions is only a good album, not a great one, its strong songs undermined by a handful of weaker tracks, and its tiresome ditties about women (Bobby Rush wants you to know that he likes them big) garnering increasingly diminishing returns.

Let's start with the good news first: leadoff track "Another Murder in New Orleans" is a skronking, mid-tempo barn-burner of a tune, a gumbo of scratchy guitar, tinkling piano, soulful vocals, horns and harmony. For anyone even remotely familiar with the troubled state of that great city in recent years, it's tough not to be moved.

There are other good tunes too. Title track "Decisions" chugs along at a deliberate pace, and Rush's vocals suit the tune perfectly, as a clever vocal bounces along above the gurgling churn of guitar, organ and bass. "If That's The Way You Like It, I Like It" is an uptempo dance-blues number with plenty of horns and bounce, and a welcome change of pace from the album's early gloom. Acoustic closer "Too Much Weekend" has some nifty harmonica complementing the rock-solid fingerpicking, and plays with the classic trope of calling in sick at work because, frankly, you've got better things to do. It's both sonically engaging and lyrically playful, and what's more it's classic blues to the core:"“I'm not drunk, but I sure been drinking".

Elsewhere, though, the woman-centric nature of the subject matter grows tedious. It starts with "Bobby Rush's Bus" (in which we learn that Bobby Rush likes his women big), continues on with "Funky Old Man", where we learn that Bobby still likes the ladies a whole lot, and then hits its nadir with "Skinny Little Women" (in which we are reminded once more that, yes, Bobby Rush likes 'em big). Amazingly, that nadir is followed by the even deeper nadir – is such a thing possible? – of "Dr Rush", in which Bobby Rush raps. You might want to read that last sentence again. Bobby Rush, bluesman, sets himself up as a telephone relationship advisor, in which he helps men out with their women problems, in the hip-hop style so beloved of the kids these days. It's presumably tongue-in-cheek, but still. Moreover, it will surprise few listeners as this point that many of Dr Rush's solutions involve giving more food to the various problematic women, so they get nice and fat. This is boring.

It's a shame, because the musicianship on this record is smoking hot, with Rush's voice tying everything together – and the man can play the guitar like nobody's business as well. Overall, though, this is a tough record to recommend.





Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".


The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?


Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.


Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.


Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.


Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.


Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.


Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.


Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.


Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.