Elmore Entertainment

Rusty Kershaw- Now & Then

In the early ’90s, producer Rob Fraboni was the man behind Domino Records, a label distributed by Relativity Entertainment Distribution. Domino released Zoom, the self-produced album by Ten Years After guitarist Alvin Lee, along with two discs produced by Fraboni, one by blues artist John Mooney and the other being this excellent effort by Rusty Kershaw. For fans of Neil Young‘s Harvest, this is even more laid-back, but it shows Young’s roots, and he actually shows up on six of the 13 tracks. “I Like to Live on the Bayou” has Ben Keith on dobro and pedal steel, and Young playing a melancholy harmonica. This material was recorded and mixed in New Orleans, and it can’t be beat for authenticity. Now & Then is a record from another time and place, and if you aren’t accustomed to the sound, it really needs to be played a couple of times to detox you from what you may be used to listening to; the 12 Kershaw originals and one arrangement of a traditional tune, “Stop Kicking My Dog Around,” have an amazing effect when given a proper ear. Fraboni’s production is perfect, allowing the music to get absorbed by the analog recording tape. Art Neville‘s piano on “Musician’s Woman” and “I Don’t Like the Feeling” is a nice addition to the Subdudes, the band recording with Kershaw on this disc (Steve Armadee on tambourine, Johnny Ray Allen on bass, Tommy Malone providing acoustic guitar, and John Magnie on keyboards). “This Is Rock & Roll” is not rock & roll — it’s some blend of folk and Cajun music — but it works, and the instrumentation weaves a nice tapestry here, a little more uptempo than most of the record. “I Don’t Like the Feeling” brings things right back down; Kershaw‘s vocals are almost unintelligible, and the performance feels like B.J. Thomas‘ 45 rpm version of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” played at 33 rpm. There is amazing precision in these grooves; Kershaw is able to slow things down with more intensity than Vanilla Fudge in its heyday. Fans of modern rock might find this musical morass monotonous, but that would be a pity. “Married Man,” with contributions from Young and Keith, is like some sort of Cajun funk. It’s music with a well-deserved cult following, and is a treat for connoisseurs of the genre. – AllMusic

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