Record Of The Week # 34

December 11, 2017

Hurricane Ruth – Ain’t Ready For The Grave

Ruth LaMaster, resident of St Louis, had three previous albums but wanted to move up a level with the next. To do this she persuaded drummer, Blues Rock producer and Grammy winner, Tom Hambridge, to lead the team. Magic ensued.  Tom Hambridge has sat in with many luminaries and recent production credits include Buddy Guy and Mike Zito’s last barnstormer, Make Blues Not War. She knew what she was doing with this recruitment.

The calibre of musicians is weapon grade with ex sidemen for Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton and Joe Bonamassa. Hambridge places her up front; with that lungpower and charisma the results are fabulous. McMaster spends a lot of time on the road and it is no surprise the first track is “Barrelhouse Joe’s”. An easy swing rhythm tells you about ‘rolling till the break of dawn…’ and gives you a clue as to the type of night you might experience! Guitars and piano interplay.

“Far From The Cradle” (but we ain’t ready for the grave) allows the band to take it down for a 12 bar Blues. A wondrous guitar passage between Pat Buchanan and Rob McNelley leads off before Reese Wynams, on piano, takes his solo. The song was inspired by her father and her start at his bar where she used to sing. In the meanwhile we hear McMaster sing the hell out of the song. “My Heart Aches For You” is more slow Blues, an organ grumbles in the background before a beautiful picked guitar solo allows her to step away from the microphone to catch her breath. Think of a female Bobby ‘Blues’ Bland.

McMaster can sing at any volume and shows mellifluous tones when the lights are dimmed or delivering a stadium raunchy bellow if the song demands it. Pace changes demonstrate the flexibility and ability of McMaster to own the whole spectrum of the Blues.

“Estilene” is lively heartfelt advice to a ‘preacher’s daughter’ to leave married men alone (as it won’t lead to a long happy love). Hey, Ruth this is the Blues, so what did you expect? Out of the 12 tracks then nine are originals co written between McMaster and Hambridge but there is no doubt about the origins of “Whole Lotta Rosie”. Vintage AC/DC gets an authentic rerun. McMaster’s vocal is terrific with the rap introduction before the band hits the Australian groove. With a true Bon Scott plaintive howl she kills it.

A Willie Dixon compliment about her voice led to the name. He compared her vocals to a hurricane. He called it right. She’s not particularly famous and says she’s ‘humble and hard working’. Maybe this heat inducing 53 minutes can propel her to greater things. 

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