VARIOUS 12 Years of Where Blues Crosses Over RUF1121 (2006)
Although I'm not convinced about the significant properties of the number 12 as espoused by label boss Thomas Ruf, this 12th anniversary 'Ruf Records Anthology' CD/DVD double pack is unsurprisingly crammed full of the personnel that have made the label one of the leading players in the rock blues market place.
In truth this album doesn't quite match up to the tenth anniversary compilation expect for the fact of course that this is a double pack, offering some 13 choice DVD cuts including a previously unseen version of 'Bad Love' by the late, great Luther Allison. And it is Luther who steals the show on the 13 track cd set, with the aptly titled 'Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is' - a full explanation comes in the liner notes.
Two notable elements underpin the whole project. One is the sheer variety of the blues on offer, ranging from the first take, riff driven collaboration between Walter Trout and Jeff Healey and the emotive meandering white boy soul inflections of Ian Parker.
Contrast that with the understated presence of Friend 'n Fellow and the enduring eclecticism of the late Kevin Coyne, and the sultry lyrical double entendre's of Sue Foley and you realise the vast scope that the blues comes to encapsulate.
Secondly, the retrospective liner notes offer a key to the label's vision and planning, which after 12 years of hard work have born fruit in the shape of a vibrant back catalogue.
The DVD further emphasizes the point bringing to life some of the very best performances, most notably the DVD friendly Jimmy Wood and the Imperial Crowns who wring every sexual nuance from the suitably titled 'Lil Death', and Walter Trout who is on top of his game on the passionate 'Work No More'.
Bob Brosman offers some uncompromising, abrasive but dazzling finger picking on his dobro and once you get over the Anglo Saxon shock of Constanze Friend's German introduction, you revel in Friend 'n Fellow's sonorous sophisticated take on acoustic blues.
The closing cliché filled video shoot of Luther Allison also comes as something of a shock for a performer best known for his magisterial live shows. Still it's the music that counts and on the evidence of this track alone (also covered earlier by son Bernard) you can understand the origins of the label's raison d'etre.
Review by Pete Feenstra