The Very Best Of Tom Rush: No Regrets

Tom Rush

Columbia / Legacy Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Chances are, unless you grew up in the folk and Americana revivals in music during the '60s and '70s, you don't know the name or music of Tom Rush.

But once you listen to the recently-released career retrospective The Very Best Of Tom Rush: No Regrets, you'll think that you've known his music all your life -- and you'll wonder how anyone can live without it. In fact, if you listen real close, you may realize that you do indeed know at least one of his songs -- but more on that in a minute.

Rush's name might not be mentioned in the same breath as those of contemporaries Gordon Lightfoot, Steve Goodman -- or even more modern trailblazers like the late Harry Chapin and John Hiatt. Rush is able to craft a picture out of musical notes and vocals, and create something that could easily be hung in the Louvre. The drawback? You damn well better be paying attention to everything Rush has to say, or else you'll be lapped faster than a stalled car at Indianapolis.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The thing about the songs featured on this collection is that Rush didn't write most of them -- but he's able to inject so much personality into these tracks that you'd swear that he penned them. Listen to the gentle, loving touch he gives on the live version of "Jamaica, Say You Will," and try to remember that it was really Jackson Browne who wrote the song. It's hard -- man, is it hard.

Looking back, "gentle" and "loving" are two words that best describe a lot of the songs on The Very Best Of Tom Rush: No Regrets. Whether it's the subtle reminders of the brevity of childhood on Murray McLaughlin's "Child's Song," the way Rush can make eight minutes fly by on Bukka White's "Panama Limited" or the absolute mastery of the folk music of his time on Eric Von Schmidt's "Joshua Gone Barbados," Rush is able to hook you in and captivate you until the last note fades out. The last time I felt like that was the only time I ever saw the late Townes Van Zandt perform.

There's only one real misfire on this collection -- Rush's dip into country with "Ladies Love Outlaws," which at least knows when to quit. Granted, many artists were getting into the country-folk movement, like the Byrds, so at least one can appreciate what would lead Rush into the same path. Unfortunately, it's just not that special.

Even on the newest track, "River Song" -- a track penned by Rush -- he shows that he's lost none of his power or artistry. If anything, this track serves as further evidence that Rush should have been as recognizable a name as Bob Dylan's for all these years. Instead, Rush has become one of the best-kept secrets of the music industry.

The Very Best Of Tom Rush: No Regrets is a powerful collection that is a guarantee to make the old folkies rush to their record collections and dust off their old vinyl copies of Rush's work. It's also guaranteed to raise a new level of interest in his work from the younger generation -- and might just finally win Rush the recognition he deserves.

2000 Christopher Thelen and "The Daily Vault". All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of the record label, and is used for information purposes only.

Rating: B+

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia / Legacy Records, and is used for informational purposes only.